On December 12, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov announced the detention of suspects in the murder of journalist Pavlo Sheremet. The investigation at the moment has detained five people. However, suspicion was announced to three of them - rock musician and military serviceman Andriy Antonenko, children's surgeon Yulia Kuzmenko and military nurse Yana Dugar. The spouses Inna and Vladyslav Hryshchenko, former ATO participants were detained in another case, but they also appear in the case of murder of Pavlo Sheremet. Now trials continue to determine preventive measures for suspects, and the public is actively arguing whether volunteers and musicians could have killed the journalist.
The reaction of the social networks to what they heard was lightning fast and mostly disapproving. Almost no one believed in the version of the investigation. Someone analyzed the evidence collected in the case and did not find it convincing, someone referred to a personal acquaintance with the detainees. Law enforcement officers should not be surprised that they did not hear applause. Investigative and judicial authorities have not been credible since the death of Vyacheslav Chornovil, when the death of the leader of the People's Movement of Ukraine was explained as a car accident.
But back to those suspected of murdering a journalist Pavlo Sheremet. We will remind you that it happened in Kyiv on July 20, 2016 at about 8 a.m. The car of Sheremet with him inside exploded on the corner of Bohdan Khmelnytsky and Ivan Franko streets.
Pavlo Sheremet’s mother: my heart does not feel anything anymore
Focus agency talked with the mother of the deceased journalist Lyudmyla Sheremet. She noted that over the past two years the investigating bodies did not contact her and did not inform about the progress of the case. She learned about the resonant briefing by chance and hurried home to watch it.
“What can I tell you? I don’t understand why this information appeared before the investigation was completed. For the sake of publicity? The customer has not yet been named, which means the crime has not been solved. It is unclear why these people had to kill my son. The trial will show whether they are guilty or not. I hope the investigation has evidence. The main thing for me is that this crime would not be hanged on random people. Everyone calls me now and asks how my heart feels about whether these people are killers or not. And I answer them: my heart does not feel anything anymore. Mother's heart is no more,” Lyudmyla Sheremet said.
Investigative journalists: The motive sounds unconvincing
Ukrainian Truth agency was one of the first to respond to the news in case of their colleague. Pavlo Sheremet used to work in this internet agency. The agency wrote: “We had several questions, the answers to which we did not hear during the briefing:
Who could be the customer of this murder? Version that such a crime could be organized by a group of volunteers to destabilize the situation raises many questions.
The motives of customers and performers remain unclear to us. The goal that was announced during the briefing - destabilization of the political situation in Ukraine - was not achieved.
Who was interested in destabilizing the situation in the country at that time? Why do volunteers who supported the army in difficult times need to destabilize the situation inside the country? Is it that in this case, the investigation suggests that a group of volunteers could act in the interests of Russia?”
(We note that the Russian trace in Sheremet case, which was supposed in 2016, was not mentioned at the briefing at all).
Meanwhile, the editor-in-chief of Slidstvo.Info Anna Babinets remarks that her “overall impression is a little skeptical because there was a lot of emotionally colored evidence. The motive of “destabilizing the situation in the country” sounds a little general to me, and I would like to have no less of a consistent motive and customer. Questions that I would like to ask the investigators: who is the customer or customers? I would like to know why, if the case lasts 3 years and 5 months, they told about it just now, when the trial period for Arsen Avakov as the Interior Minister, set by President Volodymyr Zelensky, is coming to an end.”
At the same time, Babinets adds: “Some of the details we heard at the briefing and what we investigated, match. They certainly do not contradict what we had published, but I also cannot say that everything became clear.”
Denys Bihus, an investigative journalist and founder of BIHUS.info, said the following: “There are a lot of questions for this briefing, especially against the background of how law enforcement agencies work here. So far, we see a critical lack of information, and it’s too early to draw any conclusions. Okay, the investigators have identified a circle of suspects, there is very fragmentary evidence of their involvement, they make sense at some points, but telephone conversations about Grads in Kyiv sound silly.”
“Telephone conversations in which the murder of Pavlo and DNA analysis were mentioned, it is something serious. My impression is that if it’s just the minimum from the minimum that the investigation has published to reduce tension in connection with the detention of people, then this is one thing. If this is all that the investigation has, then it is something completely different. Therefore, it is too early to talk about anything.”
ATO fighters: Yana Duhar has an alibi
According to investigators, in order to “destabilize the situation in the country,” not only Pavlo Sheremet, but also the ATO veteran Olena Sambul (Marusia Zvirobiy) should have been killed. A potential “victim” is set up to protect potential “killers.” Moreover, Zvirobiy does not trust the investigation, referring to the fact that her own words to President Zelensky were misinterpreted and made her the heroine of the scandal.
“If I warn the president that he could be blown up, it doesn’t mean that I want to blow him up… However, they “stick on me.” After that, how can I trust the law enforcers, their methods and expertise? Therefore, I do not really trust everything that I saw and heard,” Zvirobiy said in an interview with 5 TV channel.
“Let the lawyers and police deal with it...But even if they put this ‘Fox’ (the call sign of Yulia Kuzmenko) in jail, I’ll come to her to court to take her out. What can I do? This is what unity is.”
And if Zvirobiy is ready to come to the defense of Kuzmenko, an MP Yana Zinkevich (also an ATO veteran) defends Yana Duhar. The military medic Duhar participated in the ATO at the time when the murder of Sheremet was committed. “The photo shows paper confirming Yana’s whereabouts in the ATO area at the time of Sheremet’s murder. The evidence provided in relation to Yana is absurd in nature and far-fetched,” Zinkevich noted on her Facebook page.
“As a person who knows information influence technologies, in a briefing of President’s Office, first of all, I did not like the manipulation of people who are far from ATO-related processes,” the Commander of SPG platoon of Armed Forces Bilozerska wrote on Facebook. “The law enforcers proved that all the persons involved in the case were knew each other and to some extent communicated with each other. Suspicious, isn't it? But, as my friend Belka (call sign ‘Squirrel’) says, the war is round. All ATO soldiers, volunteers are like a big village.”
“The second manipulation is the explicit attempt to present the irresponsible chatter, which we all do from time to time for any real plans or serious intentions. Also, if a girl - a military doctor or volunteer has a “sapper kit” (which by itself is not anything illegal) or seven phones - it doesn’t mean anything at all. Even the presence of illegal weapons, if it were, does not yet prove involvement in the murder. Now, if they find photos of video cameras in her personal phone near the place of Sheremet’s murder, - it is proof. And no need to mix one with the another,” Bilozerska notes.
Lawyers: Sheremet isn't good for “destabilization” in any way
Lawyer-criminologist Anna Malyar once more went through the most sensitive part of the investigation – motive. “At the briefing, the version about the destabilization of the situation in Ukraine was announced? But for such goal, the points are chosen very unfortunate: 1) season – summer, when the majority of people are in vacation; 2) and, sorry, the personality of the killed. Pavlo Sheremet was very delicate and balanced in his statements and he honestly said that he is a citizen of another country. He was well-known, while alive, to be honest, not to every Ukrainian. In other words, how his murder had to lead to the destabilization? What feeling the Ukrainians had to experience, besides the sadness and regret due to the death of Sheremet to raise the wave of the destabilization?,” Malyar asks.
She cultivates this thought: “Why would these five people announced as the suspects, need the destabilization in Ukraine? Were they the members of some group? Did they have some belief-related purposes? Were they ruled from Kremlin or Ukraine? What destabilization would give them? Destabilization cannot be the final goal; it is created for implementation of some next actions, which are easier to be held in the terms of destabilization”.
Lawyer of Heavenly Hundred Yevhenia Zakrevska notes that “as the version” everything named by the Interior Ministry may take place, “but for implementation, for suspicions, sorry, it is not sufficient. There is no confidence they are not wrong. And even if they guessed it, then why they just leak all insights…without evidence, without contractor?,” she asks on Facebook.
Politicians and experts: Kennedy's killer will be found soon
From the top politicians (particularly, the leaders of the parliamentary factions) the Head of Holos faction Svyatoslav Vakarchuk reacted to the detention of the possible killers of Pavlo Sheremet. However, he did it very carefully: “We follow very closely the investigation of the murder of famous journalist Pavlo Sheremet. To find and punish perpetrator and contractors is the matter of honor for the authority. That is why prosecution and court need to be held maximally transparently and openly,” Vakarchuk wrote on the social networks.
“It is especially important also because of the fact that there are the veterans of the war and volunteers among the suspects. Whenever the results of the investigation, it is very important that neither investigation, nor the court and its decision led to the change of the attitude of people to veterans and volunteers,” he added.
By the way, neither Petro Poroshenko, nor Yulia Tymoshenko wrote anything about it.
MP from the previous convocation, Boryslav Bereza, approached to the revelations of the law enforcers unconventionally. He analyzed the information about the unbelievable number of the wiretapped phone calls. “44,000 subscribers and 80,000,000 phone connections. But it is almost the total wiretapping? And what about the right for personal life and information of 43,995 subscribers who, according to the conclusions of the investigation, are not involved in the case?,” he asked.
“I do not believe in the absolute honesty and probity of our law enforcement bodies who trade the information bases left and right, harass the business, control brothels and drug trafficking, gather money from watering holes and close cases for money; wash the sand and control gambling. Not everyone. But a lot of them. That is why it is interesting on which ground the wiretapping of such enormous number of citizens was held and who may guarantee that the private and commercial information will remain to be a secret?,” Bereza wrote.
“It seems that soon Ukrainian law enforcers will notify a real killer of John Kennedy on suspicion,” former CEC Head Andriy Mahera mocks. “I am afraid to continue watching the briefing with the Interior Ministry; it seems that they will say who killed Olof Palme…,” – political expert Yevhen Mahda support the joke.
“Since yesterday, I automatically remind the words of Putin: “Zelensky wants peace but the nationalist interfere,” Mahda also noted. “Interesting nuance: in September, at Metro Bridge, Oleksiy Belko’s acts were inadequate, former soldier of the Special Operation Forces. In December, Andriy Antonenko involved in the activity of the Special Operation Forces is also detained. The Special Operation Forces were created in terms of the hybrid war with Russia and it is dangerous forces for the aggressor”.
“The common shock and feeling of understatement. But it is already clear that simple answers should be put away. There are no simple answers,” political expert Kyrylo Sazonov concluded the common attitude.
And it cannot be said more precisely.