Ukraine Investigates Audio Appearing to Reveal Plot to Kill Journalist   

Ukrainian authorities are investigating documents and audio recordings that appear to reveal a plot to murder Pavel Sheremet, an investigative journalist who was killed in a car bombing.Ukrainian police confirmed Monday that FILE – Boris Nemtsov, a former Russian deputy prime minister and opposition leader, is pictured at a news conference in Moscow, May 30, 2013.Musayeva said Sheremet worked in Russia and had a connection with Boris Nemtsov, an opposition politician and critic of President Vladimir Putin, who was shot dead close to the Kremlin in February 2015.“This Russian connection could have been used as a factor of destabilization in Ukraine,” Musayeva said. “But there is another story, a story related to Belarus. I can say unequivocally that Aleksandr Lukashenko perceived Pavel Sheremet almost as an enemy. At one time he took away his citizenship and it was a direct instruction.”Tensions between Sheremet and the Belarusian authorities had existed since the 1990s because of the journalist’s work, Musayeva said.Sheremet reported critically on the Belarusian president, and in 1998, he and a colleague were handed a suspended sentence for illegally crossing a border after they reported on smuggling.Investigation prioritizedWhen he came to power in 2019, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said investigating Sheremet’s murder would be a priority.Anton Gerashchenko, Ukraine’s deputy minister of internal affairs, confirmed to VOA that investigators received the new evidence in December.”The Ministry of Internal Affairs received information from Ukrainian Foreign Intelligence Service that a Belarusian intelligence officer, who has been living outside Belarus for eight years, has important information: audio recordings about a possible Belarusian connection in the assassination of Pavel Sheremet,” Gerashchenko told VOA.Investigators looked into the case and signed permits to question the officer, Gerashchenko said.But the minister emphasized a possible Belarus involvement is just one avenue of investigation.”Another version is a Russian connection because it is well-known that Pavel Sheremet had certain historical connections with the Russian Federation,” Gerashchenko said.“That’s why such versions of foreign involvement have been in consideration for a long time, and this new fact can help us to determine which of these versions will prove itself,” Gerashchenko said.The Russian Foreign Ministry in 2016 denied accusations of involvement, The Moscow Times reported.Musayeva, of Ukrainska Pravda, said that although three Ukrainians were on trial for their alleged involvement in the killing, the case against them was questionable.FILE – Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko speaks during a meeting with the country’s political activists in Minsk, Belarus, Sept. 16, 2020.“The investigation supported the version that the murder was aimed to destabilize the situation in Ukraine. If we are talking about the possible connection with the recordings and the Belarusian secret services, then this is about the threat to the life of Aleksandr Lukashenko’s political opponents, and if we listen to the words of the recorded messages, this is about the public message for the Belarusian opposition, for the Belarusian people,” she said.The audio recordings show that journalists working in Ukraine continue to be under threat from internal and external forces, Musayeva said.”Until all involved perpetrators and instigators are found, the perpetrators of the high-profile murders of journalists, no journalist in Ukraine can feel safe,” she said.This story originated in VOA’s Ukrainian Service. Some information is from Reuters.

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