Hundreds bid farewell to journalist killed in car bombing

People pay tribute to Belarus-born journalist Pavel Sheremet, who was killed in a car bomb in central Kiev. Picture: AFP/Getty
People pay tribute to Belarus-born journalist Pavel Sheremet, who was killed in a car bomb in central Kiev. Picture: AFP/Getty
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Hundreds of people have paid their respects to a prominent journalist who died in a car bombing in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev earlier this week.

Mourners queued to lay flowers at Pavel Sheremet’s open casket, which had been put on display in a major Kiev community centre. The 44-year-old was buried in his hometown of Minsk, Belarus yesterday.

Mr Sheremet’s killing on Wednesday in central Kiev sent shockwaves through the Ukrainian media community. Authorities have pledged to conduct a thorough and swift investigation, but provided no reason why they think Mr Sheremet was killed.

On Friday the Obozrevatel news website released a video showing a man and a woman walking away from what it said was Mr Sheremet’s car the night before it was blown up.

Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko told reporters that it shows “part of the group” that was behind the journalist’s murder.

Mr Sheremet had irked officials in Belarus and Russia before he moved to Ukraine, where he said there were fewer hurdles to independent reporting.

Though ties between Ukraine and Russia are all but severed because of the ongoing separatist war in the east, Russian journalists who worked with Mr Sheremet came to pay their respects.

“Those who did it – no good will come to them in this life or the next one,” said Ekho Moskvy’s deputy editor-in-chief Yevgeny Buntman who had come from Moscow.

“This was a monstrous blow, but we must keep the memory alive, to always have Pasha’s face in front of us and his hand in our hands so that we are not overcome by fear and not betray ourselves.”

Mr Sheremet started out as a television journalist in Belarus in the 1990s, when he was briefly incarcerated for illegally crossing the border while reporting on how porous it was. He left for Russia and was stripped of his Belarussian citizenship in 2010.

In a media landscape sanitised by the authoritarian Belarussian government, Mr Sheremet, while living abroad, founded Belaruspartisan.org which went on to become one of the country’s leading independent news websites.

He moved to Ukraine in 2014 after what he said was pressure from his Russian television bosses over the reporting of ongoing opposition protests in Kiev.

Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has urged police and prosecutors to find Mr Sheremet’s killers and bring them to justice.