Based on evidence recovered from the ship's voyage data recorder (VDR), authorities believe that Ukranian nationals Dmytro Savinykh, 44, and Oleksandr Maltsev, 43, may have conspired to attack and kill Kharytonov. The motive may have been a dispute over two engine failures that delayed the Giannina's voyage from Gioa Tauro to Genoa. These problems reportedly led the captain to threaten Savinykh and Maltsev with disciplinary action. The men are being questioned in connection with allegations that they may have struck Kharytonov, dragged his body to the rail and put it over the side; a blood trail on deck and blood spots on one of the officers' uniforms contributed to suspicions that Kharytonov did not disappear due to accident or suicide. Investigators have ordered DNA testing for the Giannina's entire crew to provide further information.
Kharytonov was last seen on board a few hours after the vessel left Gioia Tauro. The crew suggested that he showed no signs of emotional distress, and his cabin showed no indication of a disturbance or theft. His absence was not reported until about 0400 hours the following morning, and a search and rescue effort did not turn up any sign of his body.
AIS records show that as of November 8, the MSC Giannina remained moored at Genoa.