Pavel Sheremet


Pavel Grigorievich Sheremet (Russian: Павел Григорьевич Шеремет, Belarusian: Павел Рыгоравіч Шарамет, 28 November 1971 – 20 July 2016) was a Belarusian-born Russian journalist who was imprisoned by the government of Belarus in 1997, sparking an international incident between Belarus and Russia. The New York Times has described him as “known for his crusading reports about political abuses in Belarus”[1] and “a thorn in the side of Lukashenko’s autocratic government”.[2] He was awarded the Committee to Protect Journalists’ International Press Freedom Award in 1999 and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Prize for Journalism and Democracy in 2002.

Pavel Sheremet died in Kyiv on 20 July 2016 in a car explosion.[3][4] The Ukraine Prosecutor’s Office have said the explosion was caused by a bomb and labelled the death of Sheremet a murder.[5]

Biography

Early career

From 1994 to April 1995, Sheremet was the anchor and producer of Prospekt, a weekly news and analysis program on Belarus state television. The program was banned by Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko one week before a referendum to increase the president’s powers.[6]

Sheremet then became editor-in-chief of the Belarusian newspaper Belorusskaya Delovaya Gazeta. The same year, he also began working for the Russian public television company ORT, and was named its Minsk bureau chief in 1996.[6] Because of increasing control of Belarusian media by the Lukashenko government, Russian television was often the primary resource of Belarusian citizens for alternative news.[6]

Border-crossing incident

On 22 July 1997, Sheremet, along with an ORT cameraman and their drivers, filmed himself crossing illegally from Belarus to Lithuania and back again to show the ease with which smugglers could cross the border. Lukashenko’s government was in the midst of an anti-smuggling initiative, and had only recently ordered new troops to the borders. Sheremet and his companions were detained by a border patrol after jumping a fence to film unguarded areas.[6] Sheremet and one crew member, Dmitry Zavadsky, were later charged with illegal border crossing, “exceeding their professional rights as journalists”, and participating in a conspiracy.[6]

Russian authorities protested the arrests, which led to what BBC News called a “public row” between the two nations.[7] Yeltsin canceled a planned trip for Lukashenko to visit Moscow after he was already on his way; his plane was denied entry into Russian airspace.[2][8] On 18 January 1998, Sheremet and Zavadsky were sentenced to two years’ imprisonment and 18 months’ imprisonment, respectively,[8] but given suspended sentences and a “nominal” fine of $15 USD.[9]

Further journalistic career

In November 1997, Sheremet was one of the signatories of Charter Ninety-Seven, a pro-democracy manifesto demanding an end to “the infringement of basic human rights and liberties by the administration of President Alexander Lukashenko”. Sheremet also acted as the movement’s spokesman.[10]

In 1999, he conducted a rare television interview with Naina Yeltsina, which The New York Times criticized as “indulgent” and “[doing] its best to present Mrs. Yeltsin in a sympathetic light”; Sheremet’s station ORT was largely controlled by oligarch Boris A. Berezovsky, a Yeltsin ally.[1]

Sheremet’s partner and former co-defendant Dmitry Zavadsky disappeared on 7 July 2000, failing to arrive for a meeting at the Minsk airport with Sheremet. Sheremet accused the Belarusian authorities of having arranged his forced disappearance in retaliation for his reporting,[11] later alleging that he had been informed of government “death squads” by former Belarusian General Prosecutor Oleg Bazhelko.[12] Zavadsky was declared legally dead in 2003.[13]

In 2012 Sheremet started working at the Internet newspaper “Ukrainian Truth”, where he launched a journalistis blog. In 2015 he led a programme Ukrainian radio programme “Radio “Visti” (uk), first on weekends in the program “Show of Pavel Sheremet»,[14] and then on weekdays in the “Morning of Pavel Sheremet».[15]

Sheremet resigned from the Public Television of Russia (OTR) in July 2014, saying that journalists who didn’t follow the “style of Kremlin propaganda” while covering the ongoing crisis in Ukraine were “hounded”.[16]

He was a critic of Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, of Russian President Vladimir Putin and, as of lately, of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, as well as a personal friend of assassinated Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov.[5][17][18] He publicly criticized the Annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation and the Russian military intervention in Ukraine.[5] In his last blog post, on 17 July 2016, he worried that today’s Ukrainian politicians who are former members of Ukrainian volunteer battalions could attempt a coup in Ukraine, and accused them of being above the law and having alliances with crime syndicates.[19]

Personal life

Sheremet was married with two children, a son and a daughter.[5] In his final years he lived with Olena Prytula in Kiev.

Death

Sheremet died in a car explosion in downtown of Kyiv (Shevchenko Raion), on 20 July 2016. Several reports refer to the explosion as a car bomb, and Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko described it as a murder.[3][20][21][22] He was in a red Subaru XV[20] that belonged to his law wife [23][24] and partner, the former editor-in-chief of Ukrayinska Pravda, Olena Prytula. She was not in the car at the time.[25] Reports claim that according to Novaya Gazeta, Sheremet and Prytula had recently told friends they were under surveillance.[5] Immediately following his death, an official from Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs said “We cannot rule out the possible participation of the Russian special services in this crime”.[5]

Sheremet was buried in Minsk on 23 July 2016.[26] The day before a procession through Kiev was held for him attended by friends, colleagues, lawmakers, and government officials—among them President Petro Poroshenko.[26]

External video
 “Killing Pavel”, a documentary produced by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and its Ukrainian partner, Slidstvo.Info, YouTube video

An independent investigation by journalists which was published as online documentary has revealed severe short-comings in the official investigation and has implicated involvement of the Ukrainian secret service.[27]

Reaction

The President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko called Sheremet’s death a “terrible tragedy”.[28] The Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman called the death of Sheremet “terrible news” in a statement on Facebook.[20]

Awards and recognition

In 1995, the Belarus PEN Center gave Sheremet its Adamovich Prize, naming him the best television reporter in Belarus.[6]

In November 1998, Sheremet was awarded the International Press Freedom Award of the Committee to Protect Journalists,[6] “an annual recognition of courageous journalism”.[29] Because Sheremet was denied permission to travel to New York City to attend the scheduled ceremony with fellow winners Ruth Simon, Goenawan Mohamad, Gustavo Gorriti, and Grémah Boucar, the CPJ held a special ceremony in Minsk on 8 December to present his award.[30]

On 22 April 2002, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly announced Sheremet as the winner of its 2002 Prize for Journalism and Democracy, which he would share with Austrian television journalist Friedrich Orter, cited for his human rights reporting in the Balkans and Afghanistan. The award cited the pair as having “promoted OSCE principles on human rights, democracy and the unimpeded flow of information”. The two split a $20,000 USD prize.[31]

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pavel Sheremet.
  • List of people from Belarus
  • Censorship in Belarus
  • List of journalists killed in Ukraine
  • List of journalists killed in Russia
  • Sevğil Musayeva-Borovyk

References

  1. ^ Jump up to:a b Michael R. Gordon (27 September 1999). “Under Fire, Yeltsin Is Defended By His Wife”. The New York Times. Retrieved 28 January2012.
  2. ^ Jump up to:a b Michael R. Gordon (9 October 1997). “Reporter for Russian TV Freed By Belarus, Easing Tensions”. The New York Times. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
  3. ^ Jump up to:a b Kramer, Andrew E. (20 July 2016). “Pavel Sheremet, Journalist in Ukraine, Is Killed in Car Bombing”. nytimes.com. The New York Times. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  4. Jump up^ “Новости NEWSru.com :: В Киеве в результате взрыва автомобиля погиб известный журналист Павел Шеремет”. NEWSru. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  5. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f “Journalist and Putin critic Pavel Sheremet killed by car bomb”. theaustralian.com.au. The Australian. 20 July 2016. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  6. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g “1998 Press Freedom Awards – Sheremet”. Committee to Protect Journalists. 1998. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
  7. Jump up^ “Trial of Russian journalists in Belarus postponed”. BBC News. 18 December 1997. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
  8. ^ Jump up to:a b “Two Belarussian journalists sentenced for border violations”. BBC News. 28 January 1998. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
  9. Jump up^ “Journalists Lose in Court”. The New York Times. 25 March 1998. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
  10. Jump up^ “Belarus government accused of human rights abuses”. BBC News. 11 November 1997. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
  11. Jump up^ “Cameraman disappears in Belarus”. 8 July 2000. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
  12. Jump up^ “Belarus protests spotlight disappeared”. BBC News. 7 September 2001. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
  13. Jump up^ Суд признал погибшим оператора ОРТ Дмитрия Завадского [Court Rules Dmitry Zavadsky Legally Dead]. Vesti (in Russian). 3 December 2003. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  14. Jump up^ «Show of Pavel Sheremet”, 20 September 2015
  15. Jump up^ «Morning of Pavel Sheremet” on Radio “Visti” last broadcast, 19 July 2016
  16. Jump up^ “TV Journalist Quits In Protest At Kremlin’s Policies On Ukraine”. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 17 July 2014.
  17. Jump up^ Ukraine or a Walk-about Field? blog post at Ukrayinska Pravda, 13 July 2015 (in Russian)
  18. Jump up^ Drugstore and Presidents by Pavel Sheremet at his personal Belarussian Partizan website, 17 April 2016 (in Russian)
  19. Jump up^ Азов, ответственность и добробаты [“Azov”, responsibility and militia] (in Russian). 19 July 2016.
  20. ^ Jump up to:a b c Luhn, Alec (20 July 2016). “Car bomb kills pioneering journalist Pavel Sheremet in Kiev”. The Guardian. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
  21. Jump up^ “Ukrainian-Belarusian journalist Pavel Sheremet killed in Kyiv”. Kyiv Post. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  22. Jump up^ Sheftalovich, Zoya. “Belarusian journalist Pavel Sheremet killed in Kyiv”. politico.eu. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  23. Jump up^ Media said that Sheremet and his common-law wife complained about surveillance
  24. Jump up^ Russian-Ukrainian journalist Pavel Sheremet killed in his car in Kiev. Video – See more at: http://www.pravdareport.com
  25. Jump up^ Daryna Krasnolutska; Aliaksandr Kudrytski (20 July 2016). “Car Bomb Kills Prominent Journalist in Ukraine’s Capital”. bloomberg.com. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  26. ^ Jump up to:a b Slain Journalist Sheremet To Be Buried In Minsk, Radio Free Europe (23 July 2016)
  27. Jump up^ [1]
  28. Jump up^ “Kiev car bomb kills top Belarusian journalist Sheremet”. bbc.com. BBC News. 20 July 2016. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  29. Jump up^ “CPJ International Press Freedom Awards 2011”. Committee to Protect Journalists. 2011. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
  30. Jump up^ “CPJ Presents Award to Pavel Sheremet in Belarus”. International Freedom of Expression Exchange. 15 December 1998. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
  31. Jump up^ “OSCE Prize for Journalism and Democracy in 2002 goes to Friedrich Orter and Pavel Sheremet”. Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. 22 April 2002. Retrieved 28 January 2012.

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