‘They Were Like Fam­ily To Us’

Neigh­bour can­not imag­ine why any­one would want to harm Rus­sian cou­ple

Fiji Sun - - Front Page - WAISEA NASOKIA and ARISHMA DEVI

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.

Photo: Waisea Nasokia

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.

Photo: Waisea Nasokia

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.

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