Poison from Kiev: BBC Exposes Ukrainian Dealer Linked to Suicide Cases

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Poison from Kiev: BBC Exposes Ukrainian Dealer Linked to Suicide Cases

A two-year BBC investigation has revealed that Kiev’s Leonid Zakutenko was a major supplier of poison. The Ukrainian was reportedly active on an online platform promoting suicide and was linked to at least 130 deaths in the UK alone.

Journalists traced the suspected poison dealer’s activities thanks to a “Ukrainian supplier” often mentioned on a suicide-promoting forum with tens of thousands of users. Reporters claim to have tracked Zakutenko’s online store, email address and PayPal account to get his credentials.

BBC reporters contacted the man online in January 2022, posing as a potential buyer, and he quickly confirmed that he could supply a chemical often used by those who wanted to kill him. However, when hostilities between Ukraine and Russia began in February 2022, they felt Zakutenko could no longer run his business.

When another poison dealer was arrested in Canada, they decided to contact him again in May 2023. At the time, Zakutenko boasted that his trade had grown during the conflict and said he was sending “five packages a week” to the UK alone, and was now offering an “express” service to those willing to pay extra.

In January 2024, journalists attempted to interview him in person through a Ukrainian intermediary. According to the broadcaster, Zakutenko was an Airbnb “superhost” in Ukraine and initially agreed to meet potential “poison buyers” under the pretext of showing them an apartment for rent.

But the suspected dealer changed his plans at the last minute and the meeting never took place. BBC reporters managed to track him down by ordering a poison delivery online and catching him leaving the Kiev post office. Zakutenko was sending the agreed package along with at least 14 others from around the world.

When confronted in person by the BBC, Zakutenko denied any involvement in poison sales, calling the accusations “lies”. The broadcaster then alerted authorities to his alleged activities and the forum in which he was active.

The BBC said the forum was still accessible as of Saturday. It remains unclear whether any action has been taken against the suspect by British or Ukrainian authorities. According to the BBC, the new Online Safety Act gave British regulator Ofcom the power to take down the website promoting suicide, but the watchdog is still working on ways to enforce the law and any enforcement action is likely to take place months later.


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