Almost a year has gone by since Belarussian journalist Pavel Sheremet was killed by a car bomb attack in the center of Kyiv during morning rush hour on a bright July day. The police investigation into his murder has come up with practically nothing.
The only finding of the official investigation into Sheremet’s assassination is that it is connected to his activities as a journalist. That’s hardly a revelation, given that many journalists have been killed in Ukraine since 1991 for doing their jobs.
Journalists have made more progress than police in their own, independent investigation of the crime.
A video called “Killing Pavel” is the work of the Slidstvo.info investigative journalism team and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, a Kyiv Post partner. The 49-minute documentary released on May 10 reveals that police missed crucial clues, video evidence and failed to identify and interview key witnesses.
More damning, the investigative team, using state-of-the-art video analysis techniques, uncovered a very convincing and troubling connection between Ukraine’s SBU state security service and the crime: A car with two men inside spotted on CCTV video was parked nearby Sheremet’s house for at least three hours only several hours before the murder. The car was traced to a man identified as an SBU officer as recently as 2014. He was interviewed by the journalists. His story was inconsistent and ridiculous. He refused to identify a man seen with him that same night. Then he stopped talking with journalists.
The investigation shows more than the usual incompetence. It shows high-level attempts to obstruct the investigation and official indifference.
The president, prosecutor general, SBU head and interior minister have all refused to give interviews and generally say as little as possible about Sheremet’s assassination.
That’s unacceptable. Ukrainians and their friends abroad must help hold authorities to account. If they don’t, the killing of another top journalist in Ukraine will go unsolved as suspicion grows that authorities sanction the assassination of journalists.