Journalist exposed corruption on Novy Styl website.
The disappearance of Vasyl Klymentiev, 67, chief editor of Kharkiv newspaper Novy Styl (New Style), went missing on Aug. 11.
Since Klymentiev’s news outlet (http://www.noviystil.com.ua
) was known for critical coverage of authorities and crime, the disappearance is raising alarm.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a U.S. government-funded news source, suggested the incident is another indication that the media climate in Ukraine is worsening significantly.
Klymentiev’s partner reported him missing to the police on Aug. 12, after he left home the previous night. He has not been seen since, but his cell phone was found in an empty boat in Kharkiv’s water reservoir on Aug. 18. Divers were sent to search for his body, but found none.
The Kharkiv police launched an investigation on suspicion of premeditated murder. Volodymyr Ariev, a former journalist turned lawmaker, speculated that the police know more than they’re revealing.
Police, however, say the “premeditated murder” designation allows them to use a wider range of investigative tools. Investigators said they were not certain Klymentiev’s disappearance is tied to his professional activities.
“We are working at different versions,” said Larysa Volkova, spokesperson for Kharkiv police. Klymentiev’s fellow journalists from Kharkiv say the editor is “well-known for his investigative pieces,” said Nonna Zotova, a Kharkiv journalists familiar with Klymentiev’s professional activity. “He would often criticize local law enforcement, write about corruption in universities and hospitals, road police lawlessness and so on.”
Klymentiev’s newspaper had a modest circulation but was distributed for free in Kharkiv police branches, courts and prosecutor offices, so the information he was revealing would easily hit the target audience.
The latest stories published on his website deal with allegations of corruption and abuse of power by Kharkiv police and tax administrations. His stories look more like opinion blogs. On more than one occasion, Klymentiev did not bother to get a second opinion or publish a response from the person under suspicion. He usually targeted middle-rank officials, not the top dogs, Kharkiv journalists said.
His deputy, Petro Matviyenko, is one the last people to see him. He told journalists they met on Aug. 11 to discuss photographs of real estate belonging to Kharkiv tax police officials. Later, Klymentiev got into a silver BMW with an unidentified person.
Strangely, Klymentiev’s site had no information about the missing editor or investigation updates by the time the Kyiv Post went to press on Aug. 19, even though it is being updated with other news.
Klymentiev was divorced and has adult children.
Staff writer Olesia Oleshko can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.