On this day five years ago, journalist Pavel Sheremet died in a car blast in Kyiv.
Pavel Sheremet, a Belarus-born journalist and country leader Alexander Lukashenko’s fierce critic who had moved to Ukraine where he worked with a number of national media outlets, was killed downtown Kyiv on the morning of July 20, 2016, after an improvised explosive device blew up the car he was driving.
Pavel Sheremet was born in Minsk in 1971. During his career as a journalist, he worked as a host at the Prospect weekly analytical show aired on Belarusian TV, editor-in-chief of the Belarusian Business Newspaper, head of the Belarusian Bureau of the Russian Public Television (ORT, later Channel One) and their own correspondent in Belarus, special correspondent for the Novosti and Vremya programs of the ORT Information Programs Directorate, and editor-in-chief for the Russian and foreign correspondent network of the same directorate. Also, he hosted the Vremya, a weekly analytical TV show.
Sheremet has often appeared in media as an opposition figure speaking up against Alexander Lukashenko’s regime in Belarus. In 2005, the journalist stood at the roots of the Belarusian Partisan, an information and analytical site. In the second half of the 2000s, Sheremet was also referred to in the media as chief of the Partizan Publishing House, which, in addition to his own books, released a book by Russian opposition’s Boris Nemtsov.
In 2010, Pavel Sheremet was stripped of his Belarusian citizenship. The official pretext noted in paperwork was that the journalist had obtained Russian citizenship, although, as the media stressed, Belarusian law did not prohibit second citizenship. He had lived in Ukraine since 2012. For years, he worked for the Ukrayinska Pravda, as well as for Radio Vesti – as a host.
The slain journalist was buried in Minsk.
In June 2017, Pavel Sheremet’s name was engraved on the Journalists Memorial at the Washington-based Newseum, along with the names of other journalists from around the world who were killed for their journalistic work or in the line of duty.
On December 12, 2019, the then Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov announced that the police had detained and pressed charges against war medic and volunteer Yulia Kuzmenko, parachute battalion nurse Yana Dugar, and Anti-Terrorist Operation veteran and musician Andriy Antonenko.
In September 2020, law enforcers forwarded the indictments to court.
On January 4, audio recordings were leaked showing purported communications of Belarusian KGB security service officials allegedly discussing the physical elimination of Alexander Lukashenko’s political opponents, including Pavel Sheremet. Former Belarusian security officer Igor Makar, who handed over the tapes to Ukrainian police, testified in the Sheremet murder case in Kyiv on January 19.
Yana Duhar was released from custody in May 2020. Later, on August 11, 2020, Yulia Kuzmenko was also released from a pretrial detention center and put under 24-hour house arrest. Andriy Antonenko was released from pretrial custody for a 24-hour house arrest as late as April 30, 2021.
On June 29, 2021, the Shevchenkivskyi District Court of Kyiv extended for another two months house arrest for Yulia Kuzmenko and Yana Duhar.
The next hearing in the case has been scheduled for July 27, 2021.