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Experts say journalist in Kiev murdered as a result of professional activities

July 20, 17:45 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Senior officials comment on famed journalist Pavel Sheremet’s murder in Kiev
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© Maxim Pab/TASS

MOSCOW, July 20. /TASS/. The Russian Union of Journalists thinks that famed journalist Pavel Sheremet’s murder is linked to his professional activities.

"This is connected 100% with Pavel Sheremet’s professional activities. There are no other versions," the union’s chairman and editor-in-chief of Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper, Pavel Gusev told TASS Wednesday. "He always had an enthusiastic viewpoint. His opinion could concur with mine or not, but he was never indifferent. I don’t think that (his death) is connected with anything else," he added.

Russian Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko said "the murder of the Russian citizen, journalist Pavel Sheremet is another proof that journalism in modern Ukraine can be literally deadly." 

"After an unconstitutional coup, over ten media representatives have been killed in Ukraine," she added claiming that "none of these murders has been solved yet." "The practice of restricting and harassing journalists, both Ukrainian and foreign, has become common. Receiving and distributing objective information is being hampered," she noted.

This situation should cause concern, including within the international community, Matviyenko continued. "Ukraine has become a territory where journalistic activities are accompanied by broader risks - political, legal, threats to health and lives of media workers," the lawmaker said adding that "the right for life, just like the right for a profession, freedom of receiving and distributing information, are among the most important, fundamental values."

Russian Foreign Ministry’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Democracy and Supremacy of Law Konstantin Dolgov wrote on his Twitter microblog: "We hope that Ukrainian authorities will thoroughly investigate this murder and bring those guilty to justice. At the same time, the reaction to this tragedy from the West and Kiev remains stably weak and not corresponding to the level of the problem."

The diplomat claimed that murders of journalists became systematic in Ukraine after 2014. "The murder of Russian citizen Pavel Sheremet is another heavy blow to human rights in Ukraine," Dolgov concluded.

Ukrainian political analyst, Vadim Karasev agrees with the opinion that the journalist was murdered. The analyst noted that he had investigated several shady cases, including the Odessa Region one. "He probably rubbed some big shot the wrong way and someone’s interests felt threatened," Karasev added noting that he knew Sheremet very well. "He was a very meticulous and honest journalist. And he probably paid for it," Karasev said.

Chairman of the Russian State Duma’s Committee on CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Ties and Compatriots, Leonid Slutsky said that Sheremet’s murder casts a shadow on the state of democracy and freedom of speech in Ukraine. "Pavel Sheremet’s homocide, regardless of the motive, definitely casts a shadow on Ukraine’s freedom of speech. When journalists are blown up in Kiev’s streets, there can be no discussion about democracy, let alone compliance with European standards," Slutsky delcared.

Statements about some alleged "Russian footprint" in Sheremet’s slaying are cynical, he continued. "Kiev as usual tries to blame Russia for all its failings. I hope that Ukrainian law enforcement officials will make every effort to find and punish those who not only carried out Sheremet’s murder, but those who also ordered it, rather than look for some non-existent Russian footprint," Slutsky stressed.

However, Chairman of Russian State Duma’s Committee on Informational Policy, Leonid Levin doubts that the murder investigation will be objective. The Sheremet killing has become "another link in the chain of victims within Ukraine’s media community." "The policy of threats and violence towards journalists in the country, unfortunately, leaves little hope for an effective and objective investigation of this cynical crime," Levin said.

Another Russian lawmaker thinks that Sheremet’s murder was set up to make dialogue between Moscow and Kiev impossible. "There are no other plausible motives at the moment," First Deputy Chairman of the Russian Federation Council’s Committee on Defense and Security, Frants Klintsevich said adding that "someone probably thinks that Russian-Ukrainian relations have not been thoroughly damaged yet."

He noted that "shortly after the crime had been committed, the advisor to Ukrainian Interior Ministry, Zoryan Shkiryak stated that special services were already pursuing a ‘Russian footprint’." "I don’t doubt that this topic will continue to be raised," the lawmaker said. Sheremet is not the first journalist to have been murdered in Ukraine, Klintsevich said claiming that no murder case involving a journalist has so far been solved.

According to current details, Pavel Sheremet, a renowned journalist, was killed in a car blast that rocked downtown Kiev. The automobile that Sheremet was sitting in belonged to Yelena Pritula, head of Ukrainskaya Pravda newspaper. However, she was not in the car at the time of the explosion. The vehicle blew up at the corner of Bogdan Khmelnitsky and Ivan Franko streets. At this time, Kiev police have preliminarily classified this crime as premeditated murder.

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