The crime was shocking enough: an 18-year-old woman gang-raped, half strangled, set on fire and left for dead. But what sent hundreds of Ukrainians into the streets and rushing to her hospital to give blood this month was a police decision to free two suspects rumored to be politically connected.
The uproar has shaken the upper echelons of Ukraine’s government. On Thursday, three weeks after the attack, the young woman died. Viktor F. Yanukovich, the president, and Nikolai Azarov, the prime minister, were among the first to offer condolences — along with vows that the perpetrators would be brought to justice. [...]
For Ukrainians transfixed by her ordeal, she came to embody long-simmering animosities over government impotence and impunity for the privileged in this former Soviet nation. It was only after the street protests and Mr. Yanukovich’s personal intervention that the police in the small southern town of Nikolayev re-arrested the young men. On Thursday, they and a third jailed suspect were officially charged with murder.