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Extensive blood-soaked chain of violent deaths among journalists haunts Ukraine

May 30, 15:20 UTC+3 TASS FACTBOX. On May 29

TASS provides a chronology of reporters’ deaths in Ukraine, which followed the February 2014 coup

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Arkady Babchenko portrait seen on a fence of Russian embassy in Kiev

Arkady Babchenko portrait seen on a fence of Russian embassy in Kiev

© EPA-EFE/STEPAN FRANKO

On May 29, 2018, Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, who hosted a show on the ATR Crimean Tatar TV channel, was fatally gunned down in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.

TASS FACTBOX provides a chronology of reporters’ deaths in Ukraine, which followed the February 2014 coup. At least 17 journalists, including Babchenko, have been killed in the country so far. Seven of them, including four Russian nationals, died in the Donbass zone of military activities in 2014-2015.

On April 5, 2014, the body of Vasily Sergiyenko, 58, a journalist working for the Nadrossya newspaper, was found in a forest in Ukraine’s Cherkasy region. The body showed numerous signs of beatings and knife wounds. Three suspects were apprehended later, who, according to the media, were convicted in 2016. Another two suspects were apprehended in Ukraine in April and May 2017. The sixth suspect was arrested in the United States at the request of American authorities.

On May 2, 2014, radical Ukrainian nationalists, including members of the Pravy Sektor (or Right Sector) organization outlawed in Russia, set fire to the Trade Union House in the city of Odessa, where protesters against the coup had found refuge. According to official estimates, the clashes killed 48 people, most of whom died in the Trade Union House inferno. The victims include journalist Dmitry Karpov who used the pen name of Ivanov. He hosted a program at a local radio station, and was involved in a number of TV projects, in addition to being a music critic.

On May 24, 2014, Italian reporter Andrea "Andy" Rocchelli, the founder of the Cesura independent photographers collective, and his interpreter Andrei Mironov died in a shelling attack near the town of Slavyansk in the Donetsk Region. French photographer William Roguelon suffered wounds in the attack as well.

On June 11, 2014, Vladimir Martsishevsky, who worked for the Kamenyari-info news outlet and strongly opposed the Euromaidan ideology, was abducted and brutally beaten. On June 15, he succumbed to his injuries in the hospital. According to the media, Martsishevsky had repeatedly received threats over his public and political activities.

On June 17, 2014, a film crew from the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) came under fire near the Metallist settlement on the outskirts of Lugansk. Sound engineer Anton Voloshin was killed on the spot, while special correspondent Igor Kornelyuk died in the hospital. Russian President Vladimir Putin later awarded Orders of Courage to them posthumously. Russia’s Investigative Committee charged Ukrainian military serviceperson Nadezhda Savchenko, who had been detained in Russia in June 2014, with being complicit in the murders. According to investigators, she provided information about the team’s whereabouts to the Ukrainian military. On March 22, 2016, the Donetsk City Court in Russia’s Rostov region found Savchenko guilty of murder and sentenced her to 22 years in a penal colony. However, she was pardoned by the Russian president on May 25, 2016, and returned to Ukraine.

On June 30, 2014, Russian Channel One’s cameraman Anatoly Klyan suffered a fatal wound to the stomach near the Avdeyevka settlement 15 kilometers from Donetsk, when a bus carrying Russian reporters from Channel One, REN TV and MIR 24, as well as mothers of Ukrainian conscript soldiers, came under fire. Klyan was posthumously awarded the Order of Courage by President Vladimir Putin. Russia’s Investigative Committee charged Ukrainian military serviceman Nikolai Malomen with being responsible for the cameraman’s murder in absentia.

On August 5, 2014, the Ukrainian military shelled a refugee convoy travelling along a highway near Donetsk. The attack destroyed a car carrying the Rossiya Segodnya International News Agency’s photo correspondent Andrei Stenin, who had worked in Donetsk, Slavyansk and other cities in eastern Ukraine. Vladimir Putin posthumously awarded him the Order of Courage.

On November 29, 2014, Alexander Kuchinsky, the chief editor of Donetsk’s Criminal Express weekly, and his wife were killed in the Bogorodichnoye settlement near the town of Slavyansk in Ukraine’s Donetsk region. According to Ukrainian law enforcement agencies, Kuchinsky’s former driver and assistant committed the murder for personal gain.

On March 15, 2015, a local newspaper chief editor Olga Moroz was killed in her apartment in the Neteshin town in Ukraine’s Khmelnitsky region. There has been no news as to whether the crime was solved or not. The Ukrainian media initially said that Moroz had been working on a report about illegal logging but her colleagues later said that the murder could not have been related to her professional activities.

On April 13, 2015, Ukrainian journalist Sergei Sukhobok was badly beaten in Kiev and later died of injuries. On April 16, two men were detained on charges of willful and severe bodily harm. According to investigators, there has been a months-long standoff between the reporter and his neighbors, and after a severe argument the two men beat Sukhobok to death. In May 2016, the two were sentenced to eight years behind bars.

On April 16, 2015, Ukrainian writer and publicist Oles Buzina was shot dead near his Kiev home. In June 2015, two members of the Pravy Sektor organization were arrested on suspicion of homicide. No verdict in the case has been issued yet.

On July 20, 2016, Pavel Sheremet, the executive director of the Ukrainskaya Pravda online news outlet, was killed in Kiev as an explosive device containing about 600 grams of TNT went off in his car. The Kiev prosecutor’s office pressed premeditated murder charges, while political scientists and the journalist’s colleagues linked his death to his professional activities.

On March 24, 2017, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko ordered the country’s military intelligence and military prosecutors to investigate a number of high-profile incidents, including Sheremet’s homicide. In April 2017, Head of the Ukrainian National Police Alexander Vakuklenko said that Kiev had requested 14 countries to assist in investigating the Sheremet murder case.

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