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Farmer Kurt Groszhans, accused in Ukraine assassination plot, is back in North Dakota

North Dakota farmer Kurt Groszhans has been accused of an attempted assassination of a government official he had done business with in Ukraine.

A man in light-colored blue jeans, a dark-colored t-shirt, a leather jacket and a Minnesota Twins cap stands in front of water.
Kurt Groszhans' family says he has a passion for farming and for Ukraine, where he had been detained and accused of attempting to have a high ranking official assassinated.
Contributed / Groszhans family
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A North Dakota farmer who had been detained in Ukraine on allegations that he plotted to kill a Ukrainian agriculture official is back in North Dakota.

Kurt Grozhans returned safely, according to a statement from North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer.

“We can confirm Kurt is safely in North Dakota with his family and friends. Like us, we hope others respect Kurt’s privacy at this time. We welcome Kurt home and are grateful for his safe return,” a statement from Cramer's office said.

“We are pleased that Kurt has returned safely to North Dakota, and we join his family and friends in welcoming home,” Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota said in a statement.

Messages left for Grozhans' family were not immediately returned.

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Grozhans had been detained nearly a year ago. According to Ukrainian media reports, he and a Ukrainian woman named Olena Bohach were accused of attempting to arrange the assassination of Roman Leshchenko, the Ukrainian minister of agrarian policy and food.

In June 2022, Hoeven reported that Grozhans was out of prison but was still Ukraine.

When Groszhans was detained in November 2021 his family and friends said he’s an honest businessman who appears to have gotten “tangled up” with the “wrong people.”

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, U.S. officials had been working to get him out of Ukraine.

Groszhans grew up on farm in the Ashley area of south-central North Dakota, the youngest of three, according to his sisters.

“He's just a good person, and he just has a passion for farming, and he just loved going back to the country where our ancestors came from,” said his sister, Kimberly Groszhans, in an interview in November 2021. “He didn't do this.”

The Grozhans family emigrated from Ukraine to the U.S. in 1910, and knowing that piqued his interest in the country. After a farm tour in the early 2000s, they said Kurt continued to make trips to Ukraine and eventually began farming there and set up a farm company. He also owns land in North Dakota, some of which his sisters said he rents out and other portions that he contracts with someone to plant and harvest.

Kurt Groszhans explained his connection to Leshchenko in a post on Medium , in which he describes himself as “a humble American investor in the Ukrainian agro-industrial sector” and as “a deceived American investor.” His family confirms he wrote the piece. In the post, one of several places online where Groszhans has aired his grievances with Leshchenko, he wrote that Leshchenko had been the manager of Groszhans’ farming business in Ukraine, and Groszhans alleges that Leshchenko “began to withdraw my working capital starting from the fourth his working day at my company to his family company and use my seeds on his lands.”

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Groszhans’ post claims Leshchenko in 2019 made a large contribution to the presidential campaign of now-Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Zelensky named Leshchenko to two high-ranking government posts in 2019 and 2020 before naming him minister of agrarian policy and food of Ukraine in December 2020.

The Ukrainian Weekly, which describes itself as being published by “the Ukrainian National Association, a fraternal non-profit association,” explained that Groszhans’ allegations and the media learning of a lawsuit he filed with the Kyiv Commercial Court came out the same week as Leshchenko’s confirmation to the ag minister post. The lawsuit, the story said, alleged Leshchenko had embezzled $430,000 from Groszhans.

“Mr. Leshchenko responded to the allegations by saying he had repaid ‘all debts to the American investor,’ Ukraine Business News said in a daily note to the business community,” the Ukrainian Weekly reported.

Groszhans’ family said they knew about his troubles with Leshchenko and the lawsuit he had filed.

According to Ukrinform, described as a Ukrainian multimedia platform for broadcasting, the Ukraine government began investigating reports in August that a Ukrainian woman was seeking a contract killer. Ukraine officials said the person the woman contacted acted as a contract killer while cooperating with the National Police, so all communications between the woman and the person were recorded.

Groszhans’ family in November 2021 said they did not know and had never heard of Bohach, the woman arrested along with Kurt, and that they didn't believe the allegations against him.

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