Car detonated in Kiev, notable journalist Pavel Sheremet was killed
On July 20 a prominent journalist and a former employee of the Russian TV Pavel Sheremet died in Kiev. He was in a car that exploded in the center of Ukraine's capital.
According to press reports, Pavel Sheremet was in the car, which belonged to his civil wife and co-founder, owner and Head of the Internet media Ukrayinska Pravda Alyona Prytula. She was not in the car at the time of the explosion.
The car exploded at a busy intersection in the center of the city, between the Bohdan Khmelnytsky and Ivan Franko streets, in front of a McDonald's restaurant.
The explosion happened at 7:45 am local time (same as Moscow), when Sheremet was driving to the office, where he was about to go on air in the Radio Vesti program, the 112 Ukraine TV channel reports. A Vesti radio station reporter Timur Filonenko, who was present at the scene, said that on Wednesday Sheremet was supposed to host on radio at 8:00. The journalist hosted his programs on weekdays.
One of the witnesses of the explosion told the Echo of Moscow radio station that Pavel Sheremet had been still alive, when the ambulance had arrived. Preliminary data suggested that the bomb was under the driver's seat. A crater about half a meter in diameter appeared at the place of the explosion.
The fire that broke out after the explosion was quickly extinguished by the state emergency units at 7:57, the UNN agency reported.
The management of the metropolitan police and the investigative and operational groups of the main and the district police departments are working at the scene. The head of the National Police of Ukraine Khatia Dekanoidze almost immediately arrived at the scene. She said that the law enforcement officers would collect and examine all the CCTV cameras that could capture the explosion. Meanwhile, the police released a photo of the exploded car.
According to RIA Novosti, 44-year-old Pavel Sheremet had been living in Kiev for the last five years. Since 2012, he cooperated with Ukrayinska Pravda, and since September 2015, he hosted his own program at Radio Vesti.
Before moving to Ukraine, Sheremet worked on the Russian First Channel and was the anchorman of an analytical program Vremya. After stepping back in 2008 from the TV arena, he became the editor of the department on politics and society in the Ogonyok magazine.
By the way, close friends of the journalist told Novaya Gazeta that recently Sheremet and his common-law wife Alena Prytula had claimed to be under surveillance.
The Belarusian Partisan Internet edition, founded by Sheremet, informs that at the decision of his family the journalist will be buried in Minsk. A journalist of Radio Svoboda, Valery Kalinovsky, said the following on the 112 Ukraine TV channel: "Pavel stayed in our media space and will remain in Belarus physically. His mother said that Pavel would be buried in his home city Minsk, that he would come back here, though no longer alive."
Prosecutor General of Ukraine says Sheremet has been murdered
Even before a case was initiated, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko had called Pavel Sheremet’s death a murder. "I have reports from the scene that the death of Pavel Sheremet was caused by an explosive device. This is a murder... I will do everything I can to solve this crime with my colleagues," Lutsenko wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday.
Later it became known that the Kiev Prosecutor's Office had launched criminal proceedings into Sheremet’s murder. This was reported by the press secretary of the Kiev Prosecutor's Office Nadezhda Maksimets. "The murder of the journalist from the Ukrayinska Pravda Internet media edition, Pavel Sheremet, has been qualified under item 2 of Part 5 of Art. 115 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code (Premeditated murder, committed in a manner, which endangers the lives of multiple individuals)," Maksimets said, as quoted by the channel 112 Ukraine.
The investigation of this crime was entrusted to the Investigative Department of the Kiev Police. The procedural control will be provided by the Kiev Prosecutor's Office. Kiev Prosecutor Roman Govda said that the investigation into Sheremet’s murder would be under his personal control.
Advisor to the Head of the Interior Ministry of Ukraine Zoryan Shkiryak reported that an improvised explosive device had been installed in Pavel Sheremet’s car, which had been equivalent to 600 grams of TNT.
"Preliminary reports suggest that an improvised explosive device without a shell detonated, possibly with remote control or on delay. Its yield could range from 400 to 600 grams of TNT. Killers of Pavel Sheremet worked professionally," Shkiryak wrote on Facebook.
Advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs said that the operational and investigative activities were ongoing, explosives experts were still working. "All the possible versions of this brutal crime are being developed, we will have details later," he added.
Poroshenko ordered to investigate the crime as soon as possible
President of Ukraine Pyotr Poroshenko expressed his condolences over the death of Pavel Sheremet. "A terrible tragedy in Kiev. I am shocked, I have no other words. I knew Pavel personally. I offer my condolences for all the relatives and close ones. I have instructed law enforcement agencies to investigate this crime as soon as possible. The perpetrators must be punished," the Head of state wrote on his Facebook page. Prime Minister of Ukraine Vladimir Groisman also expressed his condolences.
Minister of Information Policy of Ukraine Yuri Stets said on Facebook that at a government session he would call for the creation of an interdepartmental working group of law enforcement authorities, aiming to achieve swift and high quality investigation of Sheremet’s death.
Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Alexander Turchinov said in a Facebook post that heads of MIA and Security Service are working at the site of Pavel Sheremet’s death. "The killers must be found and punished," Turchinov said. He also expressed condolences to the family and friends of the journalist.
Meanwhile, a lawmaker from the People’s Front faction, an advisor to the MIA head, Anton Gerashchenko, told the 112 Ukraine TV channel about a possible "Russian trail" in the death of Pavel Sheremet.
"As for the cause of the explosion, there is no doubt that it was an explosive device installed by perpetrators, who aimed to kill Pavel Sheremet. The explosion formed a hole in the bottom of the car. The bomb was may have been radio-controlled, without a time fuse," Geraschenko said.
"I do not rule out a theory about the Russian trail, the trail of Russian security services. He was an employee of Ukraiynska Pravda, on good terms with Alyona Prytula, and it all starts to look like the case of journalist Gongadze," the lawmaker noted. The murder of Ukrainian journalist Georgy Gongadze happened on September 17, 2000. His decapitated body was found on November 2, 2000 in the Tarashcha woods, about 100 kilometers from Kiev.
Gerashchenko claims that such a provocation might be necessary for Russian security services to destabilize the situation in Ukraine even more. "To create an air of general public suspicion and thus to destabilize Ukraine’s interior life even more," he said. At the same time Gerashchenko stressed that he ruled out accidental explosion of the car. "He used this car more often, but I do not rule out that the aim was probably to explode both Pavel Sheremet and Alyona Prytula. This must all be established in the course of the investigation," the lawmaker added.
Deputy Prosecutor General and Head of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office Nazar Holodnitsky called Pavel Sheremet’s murder "an attack on freedom of speech" in Ukraine.
"With sadness and sorrow I learned of the death of a prominent journalist Pavel Sheremet in the heart of the capital. It is definitely an attack on freedom of speech in Ukraine and an attempt to intimidate those who are not afraid to look in the eye and tell the truth. I am confident that the law enforcement agencies will do their best to uncover this crime and punish the murderers," Holodnitsky wrote on Facebook. He said that he personally knew Sheremet "as a patriot of Ukraine and Belarus."
The Editor-in-Chief of the Internet media edition Ukrayinska Pravda Sevgil Musayeva-Borovik tied the murder of Pavel Sheremet with his professional career. She stated this to Radio Svoboda.
The Editor-in-Chief of Moskovsky Komsomolets ties Sheremet’s death with his career
The Moscow Union of Journalists is positive that Pavel Sheremet’s death is connected with his professional activities. "It is tied 100% to professional activities of Pavel Sheremet. There are no other options," the chairman of the union, the Editor-in-Chief of the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper Pavel Gusev told TASS.
"He had always been proactive. His position could either coincide with my own or not, but he was never indifferent. I do not think it can be related to some other activity," Gusev stated.
In turn, the head of the Russian Union of Journalists Vsevolod Bogdanov refuted Anton Gerashchenko’s theory about the Russian trail in the murder of Pavel Sheremet. "It's just a wish to somehow confuse the course of the investigation. I do not believe in the possibility of the Russian trail," he said.
"It's a real tragedy. Together with the International Federation of Journalists and the European Federation of Journalists, we will now monitor the investigation of this tragedy. We will do everything possible to help set the record straight," Bogdanov told Interfax. He also announced the intention to contact the Ukrainian colleagues.
The leader of the Parnas party Mikhail Kasyanov called Sheremet’s death "terrible news" on Twitter. "He was a great man, one of the best journalists, who had the courage of convictions," Kasyanov wrote.
The Head of the Human Rights Council under the President of Russia Mikhail Fedotov said in an interview to Echo of Moscow that he was shocked by Sheremet’s death. He said that he personally knew the journalist and recalled him as a brave fighter for the truth.
Pavel Sheremet’s biography
On November 28, 1971 Pavel Sheremet was born in Minsk. He studied at the history faculty of Belarusian State University and the faculty of international economic relations of the Belarusian Economic University. In the early 1990s, he worked in the department of foreign exchange operations of a bank and a consultant on the economic programs on the Belarusian TV. Soon he became the anchorman of the Prospect weekly analytical program on the Belarusian TV.
In 1996, he worked as the Editor-in-Chief of Belorusskaya Delovaya Gazeta, the head of the Belarusian Bureau of Russian Public Television (ORT) and ORT staff correspondent for Belarus.
Sheremet actively opposed the regime of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. In July 1997, during the filming at the Belarusian-Lithuanian border, he was arrested by law enforcement bodies of Belarus on charges of illegal border crossing, receiving money from foreign intelligence agencies and illegal journalistic activities. He was sentenced to two years' imprisonment and to a year of probation. In total, he had spent three months in prison.
In 1998, Sheremet started working as a special correspondent of the Novosti and Vremya programs at the ORT information programs management. In January 1999, he took over as the Editor-in-Chief of the Russian and foreign correspondent network at the ORT information programs management. Sheremet was the anchorman of the Vremya weekly analytical program.
In 2000, Sheremet left the news programs, continuing to work on the First Channel, but as the author of documentaries and special projects under the information programs. He finally left the channel in 2008.
Since 2009, he was the editor of the department on politics and society in the Ogonyok magazine.
In 2010, Belarus deprived Sheremet of his citizenship. This was explained by the fact that he obtained the Russian citizenship.
Since 2012, Sheremet began working with the Ukrayinska Pravda. In June 2015, he launched his own project Dialogi on Ukrainian television. From September 2015 to April 2016, he was a host on the Ukrainian Radio Vesti.
In 1998, Pavel Sheremet received the award of the International Committee to Protect Journalists for his contribution to the development of freedom of expression, he was nominated for TEFI award as Best Reporter in 1999, and made it into the finals of TEFI 2001 in the category of Investigative Journalism for the film "Dikaya okhota" (the Wild Hunt), in 2003 - in the category Journalistic Program for the documentary "Rab i ego zhenschiny" (Slave and his women). In 2002, he was awarded the OSCE Prize for Democracy and Human Rights in the field of journalism.
Video: a car explosion in Kiev kills a prominent journalist Pavel Sheremet