Police in Ukraine have detained five people over the killing of a Belarusian investigative journalist Pavel Sheremet, law enforcement officials said on 12 December.
Yana Dugar, Yulia Kuzmenko, Andrey Antonenko and the Grishchenko family were named as suspects in the murder case of 44-year-old Pavel Sheremet killed in a car explosion in July 2016.
Briefing journalists alongside President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the officials said the motive for killing Sheremet was to destabilize the situation in Ukraine. Other versions, such as the killer’s mistake (since the blown-up car belonged to the editor of Ukrayinska Pravda), a domestic conflict situation, Sheremet’s professional activities were not confirmed.
Video from street surveillance cameras showed that Andrei Antonenko and Yulia Kuzmenko were the ones who planted the bomb under a car. Besides, recordings of telephone conversations of suspects were made public during the briefing. Investigations, searches and detentions are still underway to identify the names of the masterminds.
Yulia Kuzmenko is a pediatric surgeon who in 2016 was given a state award for her humanitarian assistance in the eastern Donbass region. Andrey Antonenko is a rock musician who was also served as volunteers in Ukraine’s war against Russian-backed rebels in the east.
Yana Dugaris 26 years old. “She works in the 25th airborne brigade,” her Facebook page reads. According to investigators, Dugar did reckon near Sheremet’s house. Inna Grishchenko was actively engaged in assistance to military units. Vladislav Grishchenko was previously tried six times for extortion, fraud and robbery.
Sheremet was known for his criticism of Belarus’ leadership and his friendship with slain Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, a critic of the Kremlin. In 2002, he won an OSCE journalism award for reporting on human rights violations in Belarus, including the disappearances of opposition politicians and journalists.
He was given Russian citizenship after fleeing persecution in Belarus but relocated to Ukraine in 2014. Sheremet worked for Ukrayinska Pravda whose founder, Georgiy Gongadze, was also brutally murdered in 2000.