However, Kurt Groszhans’ family and friends say he is an honest businessman who appears to have “mixed up” with “the wrong people.”
“He’s just a good person, and he just has a passion for farming, and he just loved going back to the country our ancestors came from,” his sister Kimberly Groszhans said in an interview on Monday, November 22. do not do that.
“We are extremely concerned for her health and safety,” said her sister, Kristi Magnusson. “We just want him to come home and be able to conduct a fair investigation into these circumstances.”
According to Ukrainian media, Kurt Groszhans and a Ukrainian woman named Olena Bohach were remanded in custody for 60 days for attempting to organize the assassination of Roman Leshchenko, Ukraine’s Minister for Agrarian Policy and Food.
Groszhans, 50, grew up on a farm in the Ashley area of south-central North Dakota. He is the youngest of three, according to his sisters.
“I guess you could say agriculture is just in its blood,” Magnusson said.
Their family emigrated from Ukraine to the United States in 1910, which sparked their interest in the country. After a farm visit in the early 2000s, the sisters said Groszhans continued to travel to Ukraine and eventually began farming there and setting up a farming business. He also owns land in North Dakota, which some of his sisters say he rents and others that he contracts with someone to plant and harvest.
Groszhans explained his connection to Leshchenko in an August article on Medium, in which he describes himself as “a humble American investor in the Ukrainian agribusiness sector” and as “a deceived American investor”. His family confirms he wrote the article.
In the post, one of the many places online where Groszhans has expressed his grievances with Leshchenko, he wrote that Leshchenko had been the manager of Groszhans’ farming business in Ukraine, and Groszhans alleges that Leschenko “has started withdrawing my working capital from the fourth his working day in my business at his family business and using my seeds on his land.
Groszhans’ post claims that Leschenko in 2019 contributed significantly to the campaign of current Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Zelensky appointed Leshchenko to two high-ranking government positions in 2019 and 2020 before appointing him Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine in December 2020.
Ukrainian Weekly, which describes itself as published by “the Ukrainian National Association, a non-profit fraternal association,” explained that Groszhans’ allegations and the media’s learning of a trial he filed with the Kiev Commercial Court came out the same week as Leshchenko’s confirmation for the post of Minister of Agriculture. The lawsuit, according to the article, alleged that Leshchenko embezzled $ 430,000 from Groszhans.
“Mr. Leshchenko responded to the allegations by saying that he had paid off” all debts to the US investor, “Ukraine Business News said in a daily note to the business community,” Ukrainian Weekly reported.
Groszhans’ family was aware of his problems with Leshchenko and the lawsuit he had filed. Before that, they weren’t aware of the problems he was having in Ukraine. But that did not allay their concerns about its international affairs.
“Every time he made that trip we always wondered if we would see him again,” Magnusson said.
According to Ukrinform, described as a Ukrainian multimedia broadcasting platform, Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky called Groszhans’ demands an attempt to make Leshchenko pay “imaginary debts”.
In a November 18 briefing, Monastyrsky said Ukraine’s Department of Strategic Investigations began investigating reports in August that a Ukrainian woman was looking for a hitman, Ukrinform reported. Monastyrsky said the person contacted by the woman acted as a hitman while cooperating with the national police, so all communication between the woman and the person was recorded.
Monastyrsky also referred to an “American citizen”, later identified as Groszhans, as the “principal perpetrator of this crime”, while also claiming that the “American national” had previously ordered the murder of a debt collector and that the murder in this case was faked.
Ukrinform reported that Monastyrsky said an agreement reached on July 17 included a deposit of $ 20,000 and an agreement that the murder would be committed after Groszhans returned to the United States, which is why the Ukrainian government decided arrest Groszhans while he was still in Ukraine.
Ukrinform also reported that Monastyrsky “showed a video in which the interlocutors discussed the details of the murder”.
“He’s just a good person, and he just has a passion for farming, and he just loved going back to the country our ancestors came from. He didn’t do that.”
– Kimberly Groszhans
Kimberly Groszhans learned of her brother’s arrest in early November 19 when someone claiming to be Kurt’s friend sent her a Facebook message telling her that Kurt had been arrested.
“And so I took a screenshot of the message and sent it to Kurt, wondering if it was some kind of scam or something,” he said. she declared.
When he didn’t answer any of his calls or messages, she researched the situation and spoke to the person who sent the message; she was able to confirm that her brother was in a prison cell in Ukraine.
The family couldn’t speak to Kurt or check on his health or safety. They requested information from the US Embassy in Ukraine, the North Dakota Congressional delegation and the State Department. The offices of the three members of the delegation – Senator John Hoeven, Senator Kevin Cramer and Representative Kelly Armstrong – have responded and have been in contact with family, Kimberly Groszhans said.
Hoeven’s office confirmed that it had been in contact with the State Department on this matter.
“After hearing from Mr. Groszhans’ family and friends, our office contacted the State Department to ensure his well-being and that he is receiving the proper process. We will continue to be in contact with the State Department, ”Hoeven’s office said in a statement.
“We are aware of reports of the detention of a US citizen in Ukraine. We take seriously our responsibility to assist US citizens abroad and are monitoring the situation. For reasons of confidentiality, we do not have no further comments, “a State Department spokesperson said in a statement.
“We haven’t been able to have any phone contact or any type of contact with my brother to find out about his condition, his safety, his health, anything like that,” Magnusson said.
In tears, she explained that Kurt was planning to return to North Dakota around the beginning of December for Christmas.
Groszhans’ family said they did not know and had never heard of Bohach, the woman arrested with Kurt. And while they don’t believe the allegations against him, family friend Tara Brandner said the family’s biggest concern is the lack of communication between the embassy and the family. As well as making sure Kurt is healthy and safe, they also want to make sure he has access to legal resources. They are looking for a lawyer with international experience who would help in the case. Anyone with information can send an email to Freedomforkurt@gmail.com.
Brandner said Kurt Groszhans “is well respected in the community as a farmer and as a person”. She suspects he has “tangled up” with “the wrong people”.
“And he’s in the middle of it,” she said.