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Top Ukrainian military aide killed by 'birthday present grenade' that left son, 13, seriously injured

Major Gennadiy Chastyakov (Facebook)
Major Gennadiy Chastyakov (Facebook)

A top Ukrainian military aide has died under "tragic circumstances" on his birthday after one of the presents he received exploded as he showed it to his son.

Major Gennadiy Chastyakov, 39, died while opening the present in his home, Ukraine’s top military commander General Valery Zaluzhny said on Monday night.

"Under tragic circumstances, on his birthday, my assistant and close friend, Major Gennadiy Chastyakov, died," he said in a statement.

Major Chastyakov was celebrating his birthday when "an unknown explosive device went off in one of the gifts," General Zaluzhny said.

An investigation was underway to establish "the reasons and circumstances" of the incident, he added.

Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko later described the death as an accident.

Mr Klymenko, writing on the Telegram messaging app, said the assistant to Commander-in-Chief General Zaluzhnyi had returned home with gifts from colleagues, including a box of Western-manufactured grenades that he was showing to his son.

"The son first took the munition in his hand and began to twist the ring," he wrote.

"Then, the serviceman took the grenade from the child and pulled the ring, causing a tragic explosion."

Mr Klymenko said the colleague who presented the gift had been identified and two more grenades of this type were found in his office as an investigation got under way. He said he had issued the explanation so as not to "spread unofficial information."

A security source told Ukrainska Pravda that Major Chastyakov was a graduate of a military academy and fully trained in handling grenades.

General Zaluzhny said he was dealing with "unspeakable pain and heavy loss for the Armed Forces of Ukraine and for me personally".

"My deepest condolences to the family."

A photograph from the scene appears to show several grenade-shaped objects lying on the ground beside what appears to be a bottle of alcohol.

Major Chastyakov is survived by his wife and four children. His son, aged 13, is reported to have been seriously injured in the explosion.

Ukrainian police found five more live grenades in Major Chastyakov's home, the Daily Mail reports.