I should start by saying that I am not very cultured. I’m, in the immortal words of Bobby De Niro in Casino, “another dumb fucking white man.” I’m a blonde haired, blue eyed, barrel chested, six foot two inch, sports-watching, burger-eating, Bud-drinking patriot (who just happens to be a blue state liberal). And even when our great country’s leadership is in the shitter, I’m still going to bleed red, white and blue. And what’s that got to do with the price of tea in China, you’re asking right now.
Not a thing. I merely wanted to be open and honest from the jump, so that when you, the intelligent reader begin to dig into this piece you will have a clear idea that there may be some cultural idiosyncrasies that I’m unaware of. I don’t vacation many places where I can’t have a beer in my hand and my toes in the sand. I’m just not that classy, my mind is not a sponge when it comes to foreign languages, and all my bros are married with kids, man. I went on a solo surf vacation to Costa Rica a few years back. Shredding gnar is sick, but the loneliness will getcha.
But I digress. I’m sure that from my diatribe above, you, the very bright and perceptive reader, can just tell I’ve never been to any part of Eastern Europe (don’t get me wrong. I WOULD.). But, even having never traveled to the former Eastern Bloc, I know three things that are indisputable absolutes about of this chilly yet beautiful land:
One, some of my favorite adult film stars come from round that way (shout out to some personal faves: Nika Noire, Rita Faltoyano, and the lovely Sensual Jane to name a few – I celebrate your entire collection of work, ladies!).
Two, I know there is tasty unpasteurized beer for sale there that is not legal in the good ole’ US of A, and that’s a total buzzkill.
And three, I am really fucking pleased with myself that I kicked it uncultured American style at the beach and was not backpacking in the Ukraine during the summer of 2007, hoping to “find my spirit animal” or whatever millennials do when they go on vision quests.
During June and July of 2007, for roughly a whole month, Viktor Sayenko and Igor Suprunyuk, the Dnepropetrovsk maniacs, made the fourth biggest city in the Ukraine, Dnipro, collectively cry out in terror and shut their eyes to avert the ultra violence that was engulfing its citizens. Viktor and Igor had decided that this would be the summer that they let their evil out. They had been practicing on animals, like cats and dogs, for some time, and now they had decided to move on to bigger game. A third man, Alexander Hanzha was also a suspect in these killings and was later charged with robbery. However, the trail of dead the Dnepropetrovsk maniacs left in their wake is a far more gripping and surreal deep dive into the minds of two true psychopaths.
It all kicked off on June 25th, a warm day when Yekaterina Ilchenko was walking home from a friend’s house, when Suprunyuk pivoted as she passed and swung the hammer he had with him, essentially caving in Ilchenko’s head. From there, the two killed a man named Roman Tatarevich as he slept on a park bench. Over the next month, Suprunyuk and Sayenko murdered as frequently as they could, almost exclusively preying upon those that they viewed as weaker than them: children, the elderly, women, the sick and feeble – even those who may have had a few too many vodkas at the bar. These two bludgeoned and brutalized anyone they knew they could victimize from June 25th, all the way until July 16th, using claw hammers, knives, screwdrivers and even heavier duty stuff to ensure that they pummeled their victims beyond the point of identification. They even began to graduate to torture, gouging out the eyes of some of their victims while still alive, in addition to going as far as to cut the unborn fetus out of a pregnant woman they were in the process of executing.
In addition to a new bloodlust they were out to quench, Suprunyuk and Sayenko realized they had another itch they needed to scratch: capturing their crimes on camera. Yes, they caught the shutter bug, and took over 300 photos of the various murders they had committed in addition to lots of video. The acts of violence alone were clearly not enough for them; they needed to relish and relive the torture and heinous deeds they had committed.
It wasn’t enough that these deviants were producing a body count faster than Trader Joe’s opens locations in newly gentrified areas. At the end of the day, what good was that rush if you can’t feel a jolt, however small, before you turn the lights out and go to sleep? Oh, well, you could also go to the funerals and graves of those who’s lights they had snuffed out and take pictures of yourself giving the middle finger at the memorials of their victims. Which they did. Cause, fuck it, why not, right? Their actions had not incurred any consequences, up till that point.
A few years ago, when I first heard about these thrill killers, I tried to understand the actions of these young men, their mindsets and how they came to consciously (while having been declared by all parties as being of sane mind) make the choice to extinguish over 20 human lives… I just fucking couldn’t, dude. Suprunyuk and Sayenko were not much younger than I was during the summer of ’07. But like I said, I’m not accustomed to the way of the world outside of my hemisphere (although, I’m positive homicide is still frowned upon).
There were obviously some things amiss with the trio of young men (I’m including Hanzha in this grouping, as he was apparently present for a good deal of the animal torture the maniacs partook in). One might want to point a finger at their families, but as far as anyone knows the boys were raised right and treated well (much like the Brooklyn Thrill Killers detailed in Jane Garrett’s article). However, if the families of these men were aware of the extracurricular activities being engaged in with their feline and canine captives, or if they had perhaps seen one of the video nasties the boys were filming while they took out their adolescent rage on defenseless animals, then that presents an even larger problem.
Yet, while it strikes me as odd that no one decided to give the maniacs a second glance and maybe just touch base, there is nothing in court that says otherwise. Which serves as a huge frustration, as, with regards to this case, these men should have been sent to counseling or even hospitalized for their reckless and violent behavior. In addition to capturing and carving up stray dogs to conquer their fear of dogs, the three of them “once nailed a kitten to a cross and shot bullets at it, gluing its mouth shut so it couldn’t scream.” (This to overcome their squeamishness at the sight of blood, they claimed.) In addition to these atrocities, another just bonkers self-help therapy thing that Igor and Viktor would do was to stand on the railing of their building where they lived, 14 floors up, in hopes this would help them conquer their fear of heights. (source)
The maniacs were brought to justice because one of their attempted victims was able to flee; in addition, the boy geniuses kept going to sell all the items they stole from their victims at the same few pawn shops. Also, they went “full retard,” as Robert Downey Jr. said in Tropic Thunder. Truly, they went full millennial and took pics and videos, posted some things to the web and leaked a heinous four minute video clip to YouTube called “3 Hammers 1 Guy.”
That video was filmed on July 12, 2007, and shows the brutal murder of Sergei Yatzenko, a video that is actually still found readily enough on the web. Sergei Yatzenko, who had just had to take leave of his job after being diagnosed with cancer, was driving his motorcycle through the forests when he had the ill fortune of crossing paths with Igor and Viktor. This entire video, from the initial assault till the death gurgle emitted from Sergei’s throat, will not only haunt you, but it will remind you that there is pure, unapologetic evil in this world.
For those of you who prefer not to view the video I will say that it is as bad as one might think. A man gets his face pulverized with a hammer and is then stabbed repeatedly with a screwdriver. Even more chilling is that in this video, there are subtitles of the discussion Suprunyuk and Sayenko have as they go about their morbid activities (sourced here):
[While approaching the victim]: “Hold on, hold on, be neater, fuck!” (Referencing the blood.)
[After the blonde guy has used the hammer ]: “Hold on, hold on, hold on, don’t hit him, don’t hit him…..Watch him *the rest is muffled*” – Camera man. (Psycho fuck is probably telling him to watch how he is bleeding as he zooms in the camera to his face).
After the screwdriver stabbing, Yatzenko actually calls out: “What?…..With what?”
“What, he’s still alive?!?” – The guy stabbing him exclaims.
Translator notes here that: “The response of the camera man I can’t make out perfectly because he’s speaking very fast and again the quality isn’t the best but I believe he says something along the lines of: ‘He’s still moving his arms after I ripped up his intestines’.”
The cameraman says “He’s having a fucked up day” as he steps on Yatzenko’s stomach.
[More muffled talk as he proceeds to stab him in the eyes with the screwdriver]
“Get over here fast…..Kill him already.”
“What?” – Stabber
“Kill him already.”
He says something about his hammer which I believe to be: “I already put the hammer back,” followed by: “He’s already dead.” – Stabber
“He’s not dead and I already poked out his eyes” – Camera man
*Note: When they are saying the word “dead” in Russian, they’re using a term that is phonetically written as “zdoh,” which is a way of saying “dead” when talking about animals and things of lower life value, such as criminals, if that makes sense*
“Get the knife” – Camera man
*Proceeds to bludgeon him then interrupts by saying something I can’t make out*
“More more” – Camera man telling him to keep bludgeoning him (to make sure he’s dead, and not so much for pleasure any more).
“Hold on, hold on” – Camera man
*They start walking back to the car*
“Wash your hands” – Camera man
Camera man begins telling him something that I can’t make out clearly for some reason but I believe he says “Spray the *name of the chemical*” followed by “I’ll hold it,” as they start to clean the hammer.
*Muffled talk from the guy washing the hammer*
“I stuck the screwdriver in his brain” – Camera man
*Muffled talk from the guy washing his hands*
“I got him in the nose from his eye” – Camera man
“I don’t understand, how was he alive? I felt his brain” – Camera man
“I was holding the screw driver like this *muffled/don’t understand*” – Camera man
Before the video ends the blonde says something like: “Alright, let’s get a picture.”
The case was more or less open and shut, with Hanzha serving 9 years in prison for being involved in robberies prior to the commencement of the murders. Both Igor and Viktor were tried for 29 separate attacks, and the actual 21 murders. In 2009, they were both given life sentences plus 15 years for animal cruelty. Sometimes, it may seem like Hell actually is empty… because it seems that all the devils are here.