North Dakota farmer detained in Ukraine for nearly a year returns home

A North Dakota farmer who had been detained in Ukraine since November 2021 — on accusations that he planned to kill his business partner — is back home, the state’s two U.S. senators announced Friday. In a statement to CBS affiliate KX News, Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer said the events that led to Kurt Groszhans’ return were “sensitive.”

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“He has asked everyone to respect his privacy at this time,” Cramer said. “I intend to do that.”

Cramer and the state’s other Republican senator, John Hoeven, said they are grateful for Groszhans’ safe return home.

Groszhans, from Ashley, North Dakota, has ancestors from Ukraine and went there to farm in 2017. The relationship with his partner, law professor Roman Leshchenko, crumbled after Groszhans alleged that Leshchenko embezzled money from him.

Groszhans and his assistant were arrested on charges of plotting to assassinate Leshchenko, who was then Ukraine’s agriculture minister. Groszhans said in a statement Friday that the Ukrainian officials made up the charges in an “effort to shut me up” after he discovered corruption “at the highest levels” of the government.

“I am grateful to be home after this horrible ordeal,” Groszhans said. “My family and supporters worked tirelessly over a long period of time to make this happen, and it was nice to be able to celebrate my birthday on North Dakota soil.

“The fact they refused to classify me as a wrongful detainee was an unfortunate and politically cowardly act that cost me almost a year of my life,” he said.

Groszhans was among a handful of Americans jailed in Ukraine or Russia whose departures have been complicated by the war.

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