American Embassy Worker Death in Ukraine May Be Train Accident, Not Murder: Police

Uncertainty surrounds the death of a woman who worked for the U.S. embassy in Kyiv. Ukrainian police originally launched a murder inquiry, but later said that she could have been the victim of an accident.

Authorities say that the woman with a U.S. embassy identification card had been found unconscious near the railroad on Tolbukhin Street near the capital's Nyvky Park, around half a mile from the American mission. She had suffered a severe head injury and later died in hospital, Kyiv police said in a statement.

Neither the U.S. embassy nor the police have released the woman's name. A U.S. source told The Guardian she was the wife of an American foreign service officer and had a non-diplomatic job in the embassy.

Неповнолітній свідок показує на манекені слідчо-оперативній групі Поліція Києва, у якому саме місці він знайшов тіло...

Posted by Artem Shevchenko on Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Police spokesperson Anna Zubreva told the Kyiv Post a post-mortem is being carried out to determine the cause of death. Police said investigators were searching for a man aged between 30 and 40, with short dark hair, who was around 6ft tall and wearing black shorts, dark blue sneakers and a T-shirt.

Interior Ministry spokesperson Artem Shevchenko posted images on Facebook of the railway tracks near a wooded area where the woman had been found. But later on Wednesday, Shevchenko told the Espreso TV channel that the woman may have been a victim of a tragic accident.

Given that she was found near the tracks wearing headphones, Shevchenko said that police are considering whether she was hit by a train while jogging. Newsweek has contacted Shevchenko for comment.

The U.S. embassy, which employs around 180 Americans and more than 560 locals, issued a statement on its Facebook page that read: "We are heartbroken to report the death of an American member of the U.S. Embassy Kyiv community. Officials from the U.S. Embassy are working with authorities to determine the circumstances of the death."

There were many expressions of sympathy underneath the post such as by the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Oleksandr Kakhovskyi wrote: "On my own behalf, and on behalf of the U.S. Government Programs Alumni Club, as well as the Veterans Council at the Regional State Administration of Dnipropetrovsk regional, I express my sincere condolences in connection with the tragedy."

Ukraine's ambassador to Washington, Volodymyr Yelchenko, has called for a quick resolution to the case.

The embassy in Kyiv has been a center of American political intrigue in recent years. The former U.S. ambassador to Kyiv, Marie Yovanovitch, who was fired by President Donald Trump in May 2019, testified in his impeachment trial over claims he pressured Ukraine to dish dirt on the current Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden.

U.S. embassy Kyiv
The American embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine is shown in this illustrative image taken in October 2019. Police are investigating the death of an embassy employee. Sean Gallup/Getty Images