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The burned-out car of RFE/RL journalist Halyna Tereshchuk in Lviv.

KYIV -- The car of an RFE/RL Ukrainian Service correspondent in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv was set on fire overnight on January 29-30 -- an arson attack which Deputy Interior Minister Anton Herashchenko said could have been ordered by someone.

Halyna Tereshchuk, who has been working for RFE/RL since 2000, said she suspected the attack was linked to her professional activities.

"We think the crime was ordered, that somebody hired someone to conduct it," Herashchenko said to RFE/RL, adding that the police were doing "everything to find both the perpetrators and those who ordered the attack."

The National Police department in Lviv said earlier in the day that a probe had been launched into the "deliberate destruction of the journalist's property."

RFE/RL Journalist's Car Set Ablaze In Ukraine
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The Ukrainian unit of rights group Freedom House condemned the torching of not only Tereschchuk’s vehicle, but on the same day, the car of Andriy Lukin -- an activist in Zaporizhzhya.

"We are outraged by the fires…and call on law enforcement agencies to investigate these incidents effectively," Freedom House Ukraine said on Facebook.

The group stated that "arson or other methods of destruction of vehicles and property are becoming increasingly used as a means to pressure active people in Ukraine."

It noted that there were 11 cases last year of property belonging to activists being destroyed and "in almost all cases, the perpetrators were not found and punished."

Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Ruslan Ryaboshapka (file photo)

Additional evidence is needed for the murder case of journalist Pavel Sheremet to go to trial, Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Ruslan Ryaboshapka said on January 30.

"The volume of compiled evidence isn't enough," he told the Interfax news agency in an interview.

Ryaboshapka said that, in order to determine whether the suspects were guilty or innocent, "written instructions were prepared for the investigating prosecutors and the terms of the investigation were accordingly set."

Sheremet, a Belarusian-born Russian citizen who had made Kyiv his permanent home, was leaving his apartment to head to a broadcast studio where he hosted a morning radio program when an improvised explosive device planted under the vehicle he was driving exploded on July 20, 2016, killing him instantly.

Pavel Sheremet: The Life And Violent Death Of A Journalist
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Sheremet's killing underscored concerns of a climate of impunity for attacks on journalists and others who challenge the authorities, while the government has faced persistent criticism over a perceived lack of progress in solving the case.

Investigators suspect three people of involvement in the murder, all of them with ties to the war taking place in two eastern regions of Ukraine.

They are former special operations Sergeant Andriy Antonenko, army medic Yana Duhar, and pediatric surgeon and volunteer Yuliya Kuzmenko.

Police have also named two persons of interest in the investigation -- married couple Inna and Vladyslav Hryshchenko.

William Taylor, the former U.S. charge d'affaires in Ukraine, has suggested Interior Minister Arsen Avakov isn't certain that the people who were charged with the murder are guilty.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a France-based media watchdog, has called the probe a "flawed three-and-a-half-year investigation."

In a statement on January 10, RSF raised concern about "inconsistencies in the evidence for the Ukrainian authorities' claim to have solved [Sheremet’s] murder,” and urged them to “continue the investigation and to be more transparent as they do so."

This investigation "offers the opportunity to really begin combating impunity," said Jeanne Cavelier, the head of the Paris-based media freedom watchdog's Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.

"Not just the perpetrators but also the instigators should be identified and brought to trial," Cavelier insisted.

Sheremet's mother, Lyudmila Sheremet, told RFE/RL in December that she does not know if the suspects are guilty or not, but that she is afraid "that innocent people may be hurt" as officials try to show they're making headway in the case.

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About This Blog

"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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