Ukrainian trio detained over killing of journalist

INDEPENDENT UNION OF EUROPEAN JUORNALISTS

Ukrainian trio detained over killing of journalist

Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles. Copying articles to share with others is a breach of FT.com T&Cs and Copyright Policy. Email licensing@ft.com to buy additional rights. Subscribers may share up to 10 or 20 articles per month using the gift article service. More information can be found at https://www.ft.com/tour.
https://www.ft.com/content/1bb93f92-1db9-11ea-9186-7348c2f183af

Ukrainian prosecutors on Friday sought the arrests of three people suspected of involvement in the 2016 murder of Pavel Sheremet, a prominent Belarus-born journalist who was a vocal critic of the Kremlin.

The trio appearing before judges in Kyiv were detained on Thursday. They included Yulia Kuzmenko, a heart surgeon who treated soldiers on the front lines of Ukraine’s war in eastern regions with Russian-backed separatists. Police suspect she planted the bomb along with Andriy Antonenko, a musician who serves in Ukraine’s special forces.

A judge earlier on Friday sanctioned the house arrest of Yana Duhal, who police suspect was an accomplice, along with a married couple, also war veterans, who were arrested earlier this year.

All five have denied involvement.

During a televised press conference on Thursday, where the suspects and other possible accomplices were identified, Ukraine’s interior affairs minister Arsen Avakov described investigators’ findings as “not only sensational, but also shocking”.

“Ukrainian society has the right to clearly comprehend the limits where patriotism transcends into betrayal of their country — and a crime,” he added.

Sheremet was killed in Kyiv in a 2016 car bomb attack. After his death Ukrainian law enforcement officials indicated possible Russian involvement, citing Sheremet’s closeness to opposition figures in Belarus and Russia. The journalist was a close friend of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was gunned down near the Kremlin in 2015.

Moscow and Minsk repeatedly denied involvement.

Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles. Copying articles to share with others is a breach of FT.com T&Cs and Copyright Policy. Email licensing@ft.com to buy additional rights. Subscribers may share up to 10 or 20 articles per month using the gift article service. More information can be found at https://www.ft.com/tour.
https://www.ft.com/content/1bb93f92-1db9-11ea-9186-7348c2f183af

During Thursday’s press conference, deputy National Police chief Yevhen Koval presented tapped phone calls and CCTV camera footage of blurred figures at the scene of the crime to implicate the group, which he claimed had “radical” views. Officials said the motive remained unclear.

“The likely killers have been detained . . . but there is one outstanding question, who ordered it?,” Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky said after evidence was presented on Thursday.

Elected this spring on promises to end war and root out corruption, Mr Zelensky described the case as one of many unsolved crimes against journalists and activists that haunts the country.

Allegations that the war veterans and volunteers were behind Sheremet’s murder raised eyebrows and sparked doubt from colleagues who served alongside them and others who knew the suspects.

A respected surgeon described Ms Kuzmenko as a “positive” person involved in many activities, adding that she would “never” be involved in a car bombing.

Volodymyr Ariev, an MP in former president Petro Poroshenko’s party who has known Mr Antonenko since 1989, said it “looks very weird”, adding “there is no direct proof” or motive.

“Two months ago there was a statement by President Zelensky that if there is no progress of the Sheremet investigation then the leadership of the interior affairs ministry would be changed,” Mr Ariev said.

Mr Avakov might have rushed to solve the case in order to hold on to his position, he added.

Mr Avakov and Mr Zelensky denied such claims.
By Financial Times

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *