In Ukraine, a car bomb killed a prominent 44-year-old Belarussian radio and television journalist, Pavel Sheremet, in the country’s capital Kiev, reports New York Times. Sheremet worked for Ukrainska Pravda, Ukraine’s top investigative news website, owned by his girlfriend and partner, Olena Prytula. The blast happened when he was driving his girlfriend’s Subaru XV while on his way to host a news show at Radio Vesti and had stopped at an intersection to let a car pass by, reported CBS News.
Lyubov Pereyenko, a witness to the incident, told Kyiv Post that the bomb explosion was so strong that the parts of the car flew and fell near her kiosk where she was selling fruits.
The bystanders rushed to the spot and pulled Sheremet out as the car was catching flames. The ambulance reached before the cops and picked the injured Sheremet from the spot. Quickly after that, the police arrived to move the crowd to a safe distance since the car had caught fire and was going to explode again.
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko said in a statement through a video posted on Twitter that Sheremet’s death in the car bombing was a matter of honor, and he then ordered the national police to fast track the investigation and catch the culprits who were responsible for timing or remotely detonating the car bomb.
A CCTV footage posted on Twitter shows Sheremet stopping the car at the intersection, which is when the bomb exploded.
Khatia Dekanoizde, Ukraine’s head of national police, in a meeting with Poroshenko stated that the bomb was made using 400 to 600 grams of trotyl and was placed at the bottom of the car. Poroshenko later announced that FBI officials will be involved to carry out a “transparent investigation” along with the local law enforcement.
While there is lack of strong evidence to prove whether Sheremet was murdered or if it was a terrorist attack, Anton Gerashchenko, Ukraine’s Internal Affairs minister, stated that the Russian involvement of using a car bomb to target Sheremet cannot be ruled out among other motives.
Zoryan Shkyryak, adviser to the Ukrainian Internal Affairs minister, supported Gerashchenko’s theory and lashed out on Facebook, stating the car bombing was a cynical, arrogant, and brutal murder of Sheremet carried out in typical Russian Special Services style to stir up fear and panic among Ukraine’s citizens.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova condemned Poroshenko’s conjecture about Russia’s alleged attempt to destabilize Ukraine. She posted on Facebook stating that Ukraine (not the country but the system) is becoming a mass grave of journalists and journalism.
Born in Minsk on November 28, 1971, Pavel Sheremet started working for Russian public TV channel ORT (now First Channel) in 1996. He was arrested in 1997 for filming the illegal cross-border situation between Belarus and Lithuania on charges of illegally crossing the border, obtaining money from foreign agencies, and conducting illegal journalistic activities.
Five years ago, Sheremet moved to Kiev and started working with Ukrainska Pravda and also hosted news shows at Radio Vesti. Last year, he quit from his role at ORT to protest against Kremlin’s policies and propaganda of forcing him to tone down the coverage. In 1998, the Committee to Protect Journalist gave the International Press Freedom Award to him. After moving to Ukraine, the Organization for Security and Co‑operation in Europe (OSCE) awarded Sheremet an award for his work in journalism and democracy in 2002.
While working at Ukrainska Pravda, Sheremet investigated the role of Russian special services in Ukraine’s crisis in the east after the assassination of his friend Boris Nemstov, a Russian opposition leader, last year. Both him and his partner Olena were suspected of being under radar of surveillance. Sheremet’s colleagues speculate that the target might have been Olena as well.
The Ukraine car bomb victim Pavel Sheremet was looked upon as a brave journalist for exposing corruption and using freedom of speech to reveal the political misappropriations by government officials and industrialists.
[Photo by Sergei Chuzavkov/AP Images]