An unfortunate incident has resulted in the loss of a trusted advisor to Ukraine’s army commander-in-chief. Reports confirm that a deadly explosion occurred among the birthday gifts of Major Gennadiy Chastiakov, a close friend and assistant to General Valery Zaluzhny. General Zaluzhny, sharing the sorrowful news on Telegram, explained that an “unknown explosive device detonated in one of his gifts” during Chastiakov’s birthday celebration.
Initially, Chastiakov’s death was believed to be a possible assassination involving a booby-trapped gift. However, Ukraine’s Interior Minister, Igor Klymenko, later revealed that Chastiakov had been demonstrating a box containing grenades, which he had received as a gift, to his son. Tragically, the young son inadvertently handled the munition and began to manipulate the safety mechanism. Chastiakov intervened by taking the grenade from his child, unintentionally triggering a catastrophic explosion.
Igor Klymenko reported that the police had identified the fellow soldier who had given the gift and seized two similar grenades. An official investigation was underway. Regrettably, Chastiakov’s 13-year-old son also sustained severe injuries. Chastiakov’s wife conveyed that the grenade was inside a gift bag her husband had brought home. Some sources suggested that the real grenade was mixed among novelty items designed to resemble grenades.
Chastiakov, who left behind a wife and four children, had dedicated his life to Ukraine’s armed forces and the fight against Russian aggression, particularly since the Russian invasion in February 2022.
In another development on the same day, Ukrainian forces reported the successful destruction of a Russian ship at the Kerch shipyard in annexed Crimea. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, expressed his reservations about holding elections shortly amid a growing debate about the possibility of a presidential vote in 2024.
Due to the martial law in effect since the war’s commencement, all elections, including the upcoming presidential vote scheduled for the following spring, have been technically canceled. President Zelenskiy emphasized the need for the nation to focus on defense and unity during this critical period, making it clear that he believed it was not the appropriate time for elections.
The foreign minister of Ukraine had previously mentioned that President Zelenskiy was evaluating the feasibility of holding elections next year, considering the ongoing conflict. He highlighted the challenges of conducting elections due to the significant number of Ukrainians abroad and the soldiers actively engaged on the front lines.
Parliamentary elections, slated to occur last month, have already been canceled due to the ongoing war. Zelenskiy had indicated his readiness to hold elections if necessary and welcomed international observers to monitor the voting process.
Despite Zelenskiy’s surge in popularity after the war began, some divisions have emerged within Ukraine. A former presidential aide, Oleksiy Arestovych, announced his candidacy this week, criticizing the perceived slow pace of the country’s counteroffensive. The frontlines between the warring parties have seen minimal movement for nearly a year despite a Ukrainian counterattack initiated in June.
Zelenskiy has consistently engaged with Western leaders to secure additional air defenses and prevent waning international support for the ongoing conflict, which has persisted for over 600 days. While he denied that the battle had reached a deadlock, Zelenskiy acknowledged that it had entered a challenging phase on a recent occasion.