Farmer jailed in Ukraine 'no longer in prison,' Sen. Hoeven says
Kurt Groszhans, who was raised in the Ashley, North Dakota, area, stood accused of plotting to assassinate the country's former agriculture minister.
BISMARCK — A North Dakota farmer who spent roughly half a year detained in Ukraine is out of prison, according to a statement from U.S. Sen. John Hoeven.
Kurt Groszhans, who is still in Ukraine, was detained in Kyiv in November 2021, accused in a murder-for-hire plot against a then-top agriculture official in Ukraine.
WDAY News reached out to both the family of Groszhans and Hoeven's office. They have been working with the U.S. Department of State to get Groszhans out of Ukraine since the Russian invasion began in March.
Groszhans, who was raised in the Ashley, North Dakota, area, was moved to the western side of the country in April as Russian soldiers stormed Kyiv.
Hoeven, R-N.D., said in a statement to WDAY News on Wednesday, June 1, “Mr. Groszhans is no longer in prison, however he is still in Ukraine. We continue to work with his family, our State Department and Ukrainian officials in regard to his fair treatment and safety.”
A representative for the senator said Hoeven met in person with the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink. Hoeven briefed her on Groszhans' situation, along with the need to make sure he is treated fairly and is safe.
Hoeven's office declined to release any more details in order to respect Groszhans' family's wishes and for security reasons.
When Groszhans was detained in November, his family and friends said he’s an honest businessman who appears to have gotten “tangled up” with the “wrong people.”
According to Ukrainian media reports, Groszhans and a Ukrainian woman named Olena Bohach were placed in pretrial detention for attempting to arrange the assassination of Roman Leshchenko, then the Ukranian minister of agrarian policy and food.
“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,” his sister Kimberly Groszhans said at the time. “He didn't do this.”
Groszhans explained his connection to Leshchenko in an August 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, he wrote that Leshchenko had been the manager of Groszhans’ farming business in Ukraine, and he alleged 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.”
In a Nov. 18 briefing, Monastyrsky said the Ukrainian Department of Strategic Investigations began investigating reports in August that a Ukrainian woman was seeking a contract killer, Ukrinform reported. Monastyrsky 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.
Monastyrsky also referred to a “U.S. citizen,” later identified as Groszhans, as the “main perpetrator of this crime,” while also claiming the “U.S. national” had previously ordered the murder of a debt collector and that the murder in that case was faked.