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Justice Denied: Ukraine Comes Up Empty In Probe Of Pavel Sheremet's Murder

A year after prominent journalist Pavel Sheremet was killed by a car bomb in Kiev, no one has been arrested or prosecuted, even though Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko vowed a swift investigation. Authorities say Russia is the prime suspect, but the lack of progress in the case, coupled with evidence pointing to possible Ukrainian involvement, weaken Kiev’s credibility and suggest the need for an independent probe.

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Pavel Sheremet, a journalist of rare caliber

Pavel Sheremet was a journalist of rare caliber, one whose reporting exemplified the best practices in the countries he covered: Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine.
Reuters Photographer / Reuters / Via cpj.org

Pavel Sheremet was a journalist of rare caliber, one whose reporting exemplified the best practices in the countries he covered: Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine.

Tough reporting earned Sheremet enemies in three countries

Pavel Sheremet emphasized in his reports the determination of average Ukrainians fighting to free themselves from Moscow’s grip and the brutality of then President Viktor Yanukovych’s regime—more than 100 protesters were killed in clashes with police before the former leader fled in late February 2014, according to reports. His reports stood in contrast to most on Russia’s state-run news programs, which painted Ukraine’s revolutionaries as bloodthirsty far-right nationalists and the uprising as a coup backed by a Russophobic Washington.
Sergei Supinsky / AFP / Via cpj.org

Pavel Sheremet emphasized in his reports the determination of average Ukrainians fighting to free themselves from Moscow’s grip and the brutality of then President Viktor Yanukovych’s regime—more than 100 protesters were killed in clashes with police before the former leader fled in late February 2014, according to reports. His reports stood in contrast to most on Russia’s state-run news programs, which painted Ukraine’s revolutionaries as bloodthirsty far-right nationalists and the uprising as a coup backed by a Russophobic Washington.

International Press Freedom Award, 1998

CPJ honored Pavel Sheremet with an International Press Freedom Award in 1998 for his courage and independence in reporting the news.
Reuters/Vasily Fedosenko / Via cpj.org

CPJ honored Pavel Sheremet with an International Press Freedom Award in 1998 for his courage and independence in reporting the news.

July 20, 2016, the day Pavel Sheremet was murdered

It was around 7:40 a.m. on July 20, 2016 when when an explosive device detonated under the car Pavel Sheremet was driving and killed him. Sheremet was 44 years old.
Sergei Supinsky / AFP / Via cpj.org

It was around 7:40 a.m. on July 20, 2016 when when an explosive device detonated under the car Pavel Sheremet was driving and killed him. Sheremet was 44 years old.

Remembering Sheremet

A portrait of Pavel Sheremet is surrounded with flowers and candles at a place of his death in Kiev, Ukraine.
Sergei Chuzavkov / AP / Via cpj.org

A portrait of Pavel Sheremet is surrounded with flowers and candles at a place of his death in Kiev, Ukraine.

Unfulfilled promise from President Poroshenko

President Petro Poroshenko promised in a July 2016 statement to personally oversee “a transparent investigation” into the murder of Pavel Sheremet. He said no resource would be spared and assigned the country’s top investigative officials to the task. “It is a matter of honor to take all measures to solve this crime as soon as possible,” Poroshenko said.
Sergei Supinsky / AFP / Via cpj.org

President Petro Poroshenko promised in a July 2016 statement to personally oversee “a transparent investigation” into the murder of Pavel Sheremet. He said no resource would be spared and assigned the country’s top investigative officials to the task. “It is a matter of honor to take all measures to solve this crime as soon as possible,” Poroshenko said.

Nearly a year after Sheremet's death, the case seems to have gone cold

CPJ / Via cpj.org

Investigation in numbers, zero suspects, zero arrests

Via cpj.org

Journalism in Ukraine

A photo of Pavel Sheremet on his desk at the Radio Vesti offices. Colleagues say his unsolved murder has made journalists in Ukraine wary.
AFP/Sergei Supinsky / Via cpj.org

A photo of Pavel Sheremet on his desk at the Radio Vesti offices. Colleagues say his unsolved murder has made journalists in Ukraine wary.

Words of a mother

In Minsk, Sheremet’s mother, Lyudmila Sheremet, offered words of support through a trembling voice, reiterating something she told colleagues of her son at his funeral: “Make sure Pavel did not die in vain. Keep fighting.”
Christopher Miller / Via cpj.org

In Minsk, Sheremet’s mother, Lyudmila Sheremet, offered words of support through a trembling voice, reiterating something she told colleagues of her son at his funeral: “Make sure Pavel did not die in vain. Keep fighting.”

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