The 2016 car-bomb murder of journalist Pavel Sheremet sent shockwaves through Ukraine’s journalistic community, and the lack of progress in the investigation – until recently – has kept Ukrainian journalists guessing.
Three people: Andrii Antonenko, Yuliya Kuzmenko, and Yana Duhar were named as suspects by the investigators and the court. While another two – Inna and Vladyslav Hryshchenko – were proclaimed "figures of interest" and are also featured in the case as those who could have potentially made the explosive.
Yet, despite numerous public statements and a press briefing about the recently announced suspects in the case, Ukrainian journalists still have many worrying questions.
Elena Loginova is a journalist at investigative journalism outlet Slidstvo.Info, which in 2017 conducted its own investigation into Sheremet’s murder. At the time, they discovered various facts that were not and have not been commented on by the Ukrainian authorities, including the revelation that there was a Ukrainian Security Service employee present at the crime scene during the same time the bomb in Sheremet’s car was planted.
Loginova, during a recent broadcast of the Sunday Show, said that even though the government has announced and arrested several suspects in the case, her role – and the role of journalists generally – should now be to regulate and control the process. “We need to control every step of the official investigators because there’s no trust in them,” she said.
Her skepticism stems from the presentation of the suspects themselves. “When we have three suspects with such a loud presentation, but without big proof, it makes us really worried. We see this as a very dangerous signal for the whole system,” she noted.
The day after Loginova appeared on Hromadske's show, her organization published a piece called "The Sheremet Case: Relatively Evident." In the piece, Slidstvo claim to have received access to original conclusions made by the British forensic expert Ivan Birch, on whose analysis the authorities built their case. The quotes Slidstvo included in the article, along with the photographs of the documents, show that the authorities did not have conclusive evidence to accuse the three suspects of murder.
In fact, some of the conclusions made by Birch show that the woman who did visual observation of the CCTV cameras in the area prior to the crime and the woman who planted the bomb under Sheremet's car could have been the same person, while the official investigation claims that they're two different women: Duhar and Kuzmenko.
Slidstvo.Info journalist Elena Loginova speaks to Hromadske on December 15. Photo: hromadske
Another excerpt from the conclusion shows that there's "relatively sufficient evidence" that Kuzmenko and the woman who planted the bomb are the same person. What exactly is meant by this phrase is not explained. The Ukrainian police has reacted to Slidstvo's article by refuting their claims and asking journalists and society "not to distort official information voiced earlier."
Loginova, during her appearance on the Sunday Show, also highlighted that she has doubts about the suspects, saying that “From what we have seen from this briefing, it’s just an emotional picture...What we have seen in the presented proofs, it’s not proof enough, for me to say that people are guilty."
Loginova says that Slidstvo.Info’s investigation into Sheremet’s murder continues, and that they will not stop despite the government’s arrests. “I hope [the authorities] have much more [evidence] than they’ve shown us. But from what they’ve shown us, it’s nothing,” she added.
/Interview by Andriy Kulykov
/Text by Romeo Kokriatski and Maria Romanenko