One year ago today, acclaimed journalist Pavel Sheremet was killed when a bomb exploded in his car. The murder represented a frightening attack on the free press in Ukraine.
In the ensuing year, Ukraine’s official investigation into Sheremet’s killing has stalled, yielding no suspects or results. The biggest breakthroughs in the case have come from investigative journalists working for Hromadske, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, and the Committee to Protect Journalists. Increasingly, many wonder if Ukrainian law enforcement is taking the case seriously at all.
Hromadske sat down with Pavel Sheremet’s daughter, Elizaveta, to learn her thoughts on the investigation, the authorities’ response, and her last meeting with her father.
The investigation has not reached a single reliable conclusion, says daughter of Pavel Sheremet.
On 12 July, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CJP) in Kyiv presented a report on the investigation into the murder of Pavel Sheremet. The main conclusion of the report is that Ukraine has made progress in the investigation. Sheremet’s family attended the report’s presentation. Daughter of the deceased journalist, Elizaveta Sheremet shared with Hromadske her impression on the investigation’s progress.
What can you say about the way the case is being investigated?
At the present moment, the investigation is utterly unsatisfactory for our entire family. It is not the first time we are speaking with representatives of the departments conducting this investigation. Unfortunately, we are not seeing any results or any kind of progress. In the long run, I personally am not expecting any result either from these organizations without the involvement of international parties. Unfortunately, these official reports, that have been made, are not meaningful. They talk about how many resources were used in the investigation, but overlook significant things that make up the investigation, and answer questions of Who? How? And when? This is a very serious problem from my perspective.
Did you talk with President Poroshenko and the head of Ministry of Internal Affairs, Arsen Avakov? Did they promise you anything?
Not with Avakov. That is another very important aspect, because it seems to me, that there is senseless disagreement between them. My grandma said that his claims often drive us crazy, for example, about those 7% [of murders that can’t be solved](In May 2017, in an interview, the Head of Internal Affairs stated that “the police cannot solve 7% of murders. Sheremet’s case falls into that 7%.” – ed.) We asked what the basis is for these statements, and no one was able to answer us. They all say that they cannot answer for others. Consequently, they do not coordinate amongst themselves, and that also causes major concerns.
We met with President Poroshenko several times. Yesterday, we met with him, the delegate from the Committee to Protect Journalists, and deputy attorneys. They met us. But the information they gave us was largely procedural: how many calls were processed, how many people were interviewed and so on. We didn’t get any meaningful information.
The memorial event took place in Kyiv, 20.07.2017. Photo credit: Hromadske
What do you think about the idea that Russia or Belarus might be involved in the murder?
Returning to the statements that were made this year, we asked these questions to those involved in this investigation, about whether there is evidence of a “Russian fingerprint”. However, there’s no evidence. But the problem is that there is no evidence whatsoever. Regarding the particular involvement of other countries. We are not discounting any possible explanation, we’re considering everything. Consequently, we have no reason to lean towards one version or another to any significant degree. We are simply waiting for some result, that might direct us towards something.
You said, you saw your father not long before his murder. Could you speak about those days?
I saw him a month before it happened. He came for my birthday. But, like all our meetings in the last few years in Moscow, this meeting was pretty condensed, because it wasn’t very long, only a few days. But I can say, that it was my father, well….these meetings, it was something absolutely amazing, nobody knew that there would be so few of them.
What in his behavior led you to think this?
He had quite a character, he was quite expressive, always thinking about something, some hunch to try to track down. But I can’t say anything, honestly. Furthermore, I’m not a professional, I’m only his daughter.
The report describes a day when Sheremet met with Aleksandr Klimenko, a former minister under ex-President Viktor Yanokovich. Could you describe Pavel’s state after that meeting or before it?
Like in the report said, the meeting happened right after I met with my father. Together, we went to where the meeting took place. Yes, he was agitated, he was in a hurry, and violated traffic regulations. I inquired about that, but I received no answers to these questions. He was simply agitated.
What did you ask?
I asked why was he agitated, who’s this person. But I am poor acquainted with Ukrainian politics, and from his point of view, it doesn’t make sense to tell me with whom he needed to meet. He called the man what he is called in Christopher Miller’s report, an ally of Yanukovych and the owner of Radio Vesti (in Klimenko’s report, he is called the ally of the now-disposed President Yanukovych and the owner of “Radio Vesti”.)
What would you like to address to the Ukrainian, Russian, and Belarusian authorities?
Mostly, to the Ukrainian authority, because they are the ones investigating. It doesn’t make sense to address the Russian and Belarusian ones. I would like there to be honesty and openness. And for their promises, which are endless, to be fulfilled. And for the investigation to be completed, and for all the people responsible for his murder to be found.
/Interview by Eugene Savvateev