‘They Were Like Family To Us’
Neighbour cannot imagine why anyone would want to harm Russian couple
Rajesh Kumar said yesterday the murdered Russian couple, Yuri Shipulin and Natalia Gerasimova, had been like family members to him, ever since they became neighbours. Saddened by their horrific and brutal end, Mr Kumar, 57, said Mr Shipulin and Ms Gerasimo-
were a very happy couple and he could not imagine why anyone would want to end their lives in such a way. “We had become great friends and used to sit together for grog or drinks sometimes. We always used to get together on occasions like Diwali,” he said. Mr Kumar, who was an immediate neighbour of the couple, lives off a feeder road on the way to the Nausori Highlands in Nadi. He said he last saw Mr Shipulin on June 14. “I was walking back home on Tuesday when I saw Mr Shipulin going towards town in his vehicle. As usual we greeted each other with bright smiles and a hand gesture. The couple always get excited whenever they saw us and would greet and wave to us no matter where we met,” he said. “I met the couple first time when they came to see the land they were going to purchase, somewhat three years ago.” Recalling how Mr Shipulin helped him pull out his tractor with his vehicle registered ‘PILOT’ whenever the tractor got stuck. Mr Kumar said Mr Shipulin always sought counsel from him about his vegetable farm: “Yuri always came to me before he planted any vegetables to seek advice. I was more of his farm adviser. “He would ask me, where should I plant this or that? What fertiliser should I use for planting this? What is the best time for planting?” He said Ms Gerasimova was brilliant in making chutney and pickles and was very close to Mrs Kumar. The gruesome death of the couple has left the Kumar family in massive grief and fear. “Never in our area has such a gruesome act occurred and now we fear of going outside of our houses even,” Mr Kumar said. The couple was reported missing from June 16 by their business partner Andrew Luzanenk.
The couple’s vehicle, a grey metallic Toyota Land Cruiser, bearing the registration ‘PILOT’, was later found parked under trees at Natadola Beach with the doors unlocked and keys still in the ignition.
Police declared that the couple had been murdered after DNA tests of two pair on human feet found at Natadola Beach, matched that of the couple’s families in Russia. On July 4, a head, believed to be that of Mr Shipulin was discovered by a New Zealand couple at Natadola beach holidaying at Yatule Resort nearby.
Corporal Atish Kumar and Constable Poasa Karawa guard Yuri Shipulin and Natalia Gerasimova’s residence in Mulomulo, Nadi yesterday, as investigations into the Russian couple’s murder continue.
Bottom photo: Yuri Shipulin and Natalia Gerasimova’s neighbours, (from left), Hari Narayan, Rajesh Kumar and wife Jaybun Nisha at Mulomulo in Nadi yesterday.
Police have confirmed that Russian couple, Yuri Shipulin and Natalia Gerasimova, (pictured above) were murdered. DNA tests on two pairs of human feet found at Natadola beach matched relatives of the couple.