Sheremet’s murder: Versions, eyewitness accounts, public reactions
At 07:45 July 20, prominent journalist Pavlo Sheremet was killed in a car explosion in Kyiv. The vehicle he was driving, which belonged to Olena Prytula , owner of the Ukrainska Pravda online newspaper, blew up at the corner of Khmelnitskiy and Franco streets in Kyiv.
Main versions of the tragedy
Immediately after the incident, sources in the law enforcement agencies said the car, owned by Olena Prytula, was blown up with an explosive device.
Later, the adviser to the head the Ministry of Interior, ZorianShkiryak, suggested that the explosive device could have been triggered remotely. "Preliminary information. An improvised explosive device was detonated. It might have been remotely triggered, or it could be one with delayed action. Some 400 to 600 grams of TNT, according to preliminary data," he wrote.
The death of the journalist, who worked for Ukrainska Pravda, was ruled a premeditated murder, committed in a manner that could have threatened the lives of several people.
Nadia Maksymets, a spokesperson for the prosecutor's office in Kyiv, said the IED detonated while the car was making a turn. "At the moment, we know that he drove 500-600 meters away from his house and during the maneuver, namely a turn, this explosive device detonated," she said.
CSI experts believe the culprits planted the IED explosives at the bottom of the vehicle, directly under the driver’s seat, without entering inside the car.
Editor-in-chief of the Ukrainska Pravda Sevgil Musayeva-Borovik tied Sheremet’s death with his professional activities.
Meanwhile, Zorian Shkiryak, adviser to the head of the Interior Ministry, named three probable reasons for the murder: involvement of the Russian special services, link to the journalist’s professional activities, and personal issues.
One version which involves the attempted murder of Olena Prytula, who is reported to have been Sheremet’s significant other and whose car he was driving, will also be verified by the law enforcers.
Eyewitness accounts, photos and videos from the scene
Soon after the tragedy, a witness named VladIvanenko published on Facebook a photo showing a vehicle engulfed in flames, captioned "A car has just been blown up outside my house.” He later added that journalist Pavlo Sheremet was in the car.
The media also quoted eyewitnesses saying the journalist was still alive right after the explosion. His legs were, however, badly jammed inside the car. Reports of his death came in after the ambulance took him away.
A video from the scene was released later. Witnesses said the Subaru XV was moving onto Franco Street, when a column of flames suddenly rose, likely from the engine compartment.
Close friends said Sheremet and his common-law wife Olena Prytula had earlier complained of being followed.
Pavlo Sheremet’s mother has said he will be buried in his home city Minsk, Belarus.
National Police Chief Khatia Dekanoidze stated that the investigation into Sheremet’s death would be a matter of honor for her. "You know perfectly well Pavlo Sheremet was a good friend of mine. He was the first one to whom I gave an interview. He was a very good journalist, so for me it is a matter of honor," she said.
Dekanoidze said a special inter-agency group was being set up consisting of the best operatives from the National Police, the SBU security service, as well as with the involvement of officials from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko called the tragedy ”murder” as reports came in from the scene confirming that an explosive device had been set off.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko also expressed his shock at the death of the journalist. "A terrible tragedy in Kyiv. It’s a shock – I have no other words. I knew Pavlo personally, I feel sorry for his family and friends," the president wrote on Facebook.
Poroshenko held a meeting with security officials and requested protection for Olena Prytula.
Nazar Kholodnitsky, deputy prosecutor general and head of the specialized anti-corruption prosecutor's office, called the death of the journalist an attack on the freedom of speech.
"This is definitely an attack on the freedom of speech in Ukraine and an attempt to intimidate those who are not afraid to directly speak the truth," Kholodnitsky wrote.
Jan Tombinski, head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine, urged the Ukrainian authorities to make every effort while carrying out the investigation and promptly bring to justice those responsible for the murder of Sheremet. "I urge the authorities to make every effort while conducting the investigation and promptly bring to justice those responsible for this terrible crime," he said.