In Ukraine, July 20, 2016

Well-known Russian journalist Pavel Sheremet has died in downtown Kiev when the car he was driving blew up minutes after it started. The vehicle belonged to his employer, the head of Ukrainskaya Pravda newspaper.

Scene of killing of journalist Pavel Sheremet in Kyiv on July 20, 2016 (Efrem Lukatsky, AP)

Scene of killing of journalist Pavel Sheremet in Kyiv on July 20, 2016 (Efrem Lukatsky, AP)

The killing of the journalist in Kiev is murder, with a bomb planted in the car he was in, the Ukrainian Prosecutor’s Office has said. “No doubt the blast was caused by an explosive device implanted by malefactors. Evidently, the bomb had either a frequency-induction fuse or clock-operated bomb,” Anton Gerashchenko, a Ukrainian MP and aide to the interior minister, told 112 Ukraine channel.

The explosion occurred at about 7:45am, after Sheremet got into the car, started the engine and drove several dozen meters. He was killed instantly. The vehicle has completely burnt out.

The vehicle belonged to Alyona Pritula, the founder and chief editor of Ukrainskaya Pravda media outlet. She was not inside the vehicle at the moment of explosion.

President Petro Poroshenko offered his condolences in a Twitter post, saying he is “shocked” and “has no other words.” He added that he personally knew the journalist.

The Interior Ministry has made public three principle theories about Pavel Sheremet’s murder, which include his professional activities, a personal grudge and the “Russian trail.”

Russian-born journalist in Ukraine, Pavel Sheremet, killed by car bomb on July 20, 2016

Russian-born journalist in Ukraine, Pavel Sheremet, killed by car bomb on July 20, 2016

Sheremet was a well-known Russian journalist and political analyst specializing in relations between Russia and Ukraine as well as developments in former Soviet republics. Over the last five years, Sheremet lived and worked in Ukraine, employed by Ukrainska Pravda.

The media company was founded in 2000 by Pritula and Georgy Gongadze, a Ukrainian journalist of Georgian origin who was assassinated on September 17, 2000.

The Ukrainian system has become a “mass grave” for journalists, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Wednesday. Sheremet was a “professional not afraid to tell the regime what he thinks of it,” Zakharova said, stressing that the journalist spoke against “different authorities at different times.”

“Ukraine (not as a country, but as a system) is becoming a collective grave for journalists and journalism,” Zakharova said.

Ukraine’s Independent Media Trade Union has declared that the nation’s media community is acting in conditions of everyday threat to their professional activities and “lethal risk awaiting journalists, not only in the warzones, but also because of determined terrorist and killer attacks.”

As recently as May, Ukraine was rocked by a big scandal after the personal data of more than 4,000 media staff were posted online by Ukrainian ‘witch-hunting’ website Mirotvorets (‘Peacekeeper’) supported by the aide to Ukraine’s interior minister. They were accused by pro-Kiev activists of “collaborating with terrorists” for their reporting from war-torn eastern Ukraine.

The list included the names of people working for such as news agencies AFP, AP and Reuters, broadcasters BBC, CNN, CCTV, Deutsche Welle and Al Jazeera, newspapers including the New York Times, Gazeta Wyborcza and Kyiv Post, websites Vice News and Daily Beast, and many others. RT journalists are on the list, too.

Many journalists on the list said they received threats following the publication. The leak was widely condemned by governments, NGOs and journalists across the globe. [Story below.]

In April 2015, Ukraine saw the killing of opposition journalist and writer Oles Buzina, who was assassinated near his house in Kiev. Police believe it could have been a contract killing, which happened right after the vicious murder of another Ukrainian journalist, Sergey Sukhobok.

And in 2014, Russian photo journalist Andrey Stenin, who had been missing in eastern Ukraine for a month, was confirmed dead as his charred remains were found in his vehicle. He died while traveling in a convoy of civilians escaping from the warzone in eastern Ukraine.

The same year, Russian journalists Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin were killed near Lugansk, eastern Ukraine, when they came under determined mortar fire from the Ukrainian military. [Ukrainian paramilitary Nadiya Savchenko was tried and convicted in Russia for that murder. She was released soon after her conviction in May 2016 in a prisoner exchange with two Russian citizens jailed in Ukraine on trumped-up espionage charges.–New Cold]

According to the Ukrainian media, 15 journalists have died in Ukraine since early 2014.

Related reading on
Outrage as Ukrainian witch-hunt site leaks personal info of ‘terrorist-collaborating journalists’, May 12, 2016

Ukrainian political analyst’s call to ‘exterminate Russian reporters’ gets criminal probe, May 5, 2015

Additional related reading:
Another journalist murdered in Ukraine. Body count hits 14 and rising, by Alex Christoforou, The Duran, July 20, 2016

Dead bodies of journalists and politicians continue to pile up in Ukraine. U.S. and EU governments remain completely silent, afraid that such attacks on the press may destroy the false narrative built around Ukraine that they have so carefully constructed…

Not taking into account journalists murdered by the Ukraine military in 2014 (Russian photo journalist Andrey Stenin, and Russian journalists Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin), from January 29th 2015, 11 (eleven) politicians and journalists, critical of the Ukraine putsch government have been mysteriously murdered:

  • January 29, 2015: Former Chairman of the local government of the Kharkov region, Alexey Kolesnik, hanged himself.
  • February 24, 2015: Stanislav Melnik, a member of the opposition party (Partia Regionov), shot himself.
  • February 25, 2015: The Mayor of Melitopol, Sergey Valter, hanged himself a few hours before his trial.
  • February 26, 2015: Alexander Bordiuga, deputy director of the Melitopol police, was found dead in his garage.
  • February 26, 2015: Alexander Peklushenko, former member of the Ukrainian parliament, and former mayor of Zaporizhi, was found shot to death.
  • February 28, 2015: Mikhail Chechetov, former member of parliament, member of the opposition party (Partia Regionov), “fell” from the window of his 17th floor apartment in Kiev.
  • March 14, 2015: The 32-year-old prosecutor in Odessa, Sergey Melnichuk, “fell” to his death from the 9th floor.
  • April 13, 2015: Sergei Sukhobok, a journalist from Donetsk region, was found dead in Kiev, reportedly killed in a fight with neighbors in the Ukrainian capital.
  • April 15, 2015: Oleg Kalashnikov, a former Ukrainian MP and a vocal critic of the country’s ruling government was murdered in Kiev, found dead of a gunshot wound on the landing of his apartment.
  • April 16, 2015: Oles Buzyna, a 45- year-old journalist, critical of Poroshenko’s government, shot dead in the street. Buzina’s body was found on the ground near his apartment close to the city center.
  • July 20th, 2016: Pavel Sheremet died in Kiev when the car he was driving blew up minutes after it started.

Political killings and the double standard: The different ways political killings get reported in Ukraine and Russia, by Alexander Mercouris, The Duran, July 20, 2016


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