Unravelling the enigma of football in the post-Soviet republics
This morning Daniel Voronkov buried his wife and two young children in Sevastopol, Ukraine.
They were killed by the reckless driving of Vladislav Piskun, a defender with the Premier League club PFC Sevastopol on Sunday just 150 metres from their family house. The 25-year-old player is currently sat in a Crimean jail cell.
His name won’t be familiar to football fans outside of the region. Piskun has spent much of his career outside of Ukraine’s top flight and has been restricted by an injury to just seven first team appearances this season with newly-promoted Sevastopol, who also have the ex-Wigan Athletic striker Julius Aghahowa on loan this season from Shakhtar Donetsk.
It’s during these past three months on the sidelines Piskun has sunk into a deep depression, and there were rumours his spinal problem was a career-threatening one and that the club may be seeking to make a decision on his future during the impeding winter break.
At the beginning of the season he’d swapped his second-hand Hyundai for a BMW 320i Cabrio and while reports remain unclear as to the exact details, it’s believed he participated in a street race with a yellow Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 (allegedly the driver was a friend) that began at a set of traffic lights in Sevastopol’s city centre on Sunday morning.
Also in the car was Piskun’s girlfriend, who wasn’t pregnant, as was reported yesterday. Initial stories claimed the passenger was his wife, whom he is separated from.
Piskun lost control of his vehicle attempting to overtake the Mitsubishi in a trolleybus lane on Ulitsa Gogol, a popular strip for illegal races in Sevastopol, mounting the pavement and colliding with a lamppost and a building.
Returning from a family shopping trip that morning was Lina Voronkova and her children, two-year-old Kira and Nastia, five.
They were hit by Piskun’s BMV and were killed instantly.
Eyewitnesses claim the police had to disperse an angry mob who set upon Piskun and attempted to strangle him, before the defender was taken to hospital with a broken leg and concussion, along with his girlfriend, who some newspapers falsely reported later died. A plea for bail was rejected.
Sevastopol is a city in mourning. There has been an outpouring of grief in the Crimean city and hundreds of flowers and toys have been left at the scene of the accident near to the Voronkov home where a distraught Daniel is being looked after by relatives and friends who fear for his wellbeing.
Komsomolskaya Pravda carried an interview with one resident at his five-storey apartment block who said the entire building can hear the 33-year-old, who was once a youth team player at Sevastopol, shouting the names of his family in despair.
The club’s vice-president confirmed yesterday they have severed ties with the defender and will not be assisting Piskun during his trial.
“We promise that the administration of the club will take all necessary measures to observe the course of the investigation. We also guarantee our help to the family of the victims. This tragedy must become a bitter lesson for all of us,” PFC Sevastopol said.
The incident has taken a twist, however, when an individual claiming to be the driver of the yellow Mitsubishi posted a message on an internet forum stating there was no race between himself and Piskun, and in the vehicle with him was his wife and two children.
This contradicts what newspapers affirm the player admitted to the police during interrogation and statements given by witnesses.
It is irrefutable that Piskun was travelling at a considerable speed when the tragedy struck, however.
He has requested to be kept in solitary confinement in prison for fear of reprisals and will soon be transferred to a prison in Simferopol, Crimea’s capital.
Vladislav Piskun is facing the prospect of 10 years in jail.
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