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Suspect In Ukrainian Journalist's Murder Case Placed Under House Arrest

Yana Duhar (standing) appears in court in Kyiv on December 13.
Yana Duhar (standing) appears in court in Kyiv on December 13.

KYIV -- A court in Kyiv has placed a suspect in connection with the 2016 killing of the prominent journalist Pavel Sheremet under house arrest.

The Pechersk district court ruled on December 13 that Duhar will remain under house arrest until February 8, 2020.

Sheremet's killing in a car bombing in Kyiv 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.

Yana Duhar, a military physician, is one of five people whom Ukrainian authorities declared suspects in the high-profile case on December 12.

All of the suspects took part in military operations in different capacities in Ukraine's east, fighting against Russia-backed separatists.

Duhar is suspected of taking pictures of security cameras near Sheremet's apartment block in Kyiv to prepare the planting of an explosive device into his car several days before the murder. She has rejected the allegation and her lawyer has said the court's ruling will be appealed.

Among the other suspects, the authorities named pediatrician and well-known volunteer Yulia Kuzmenko and musician Andiy Antonenko. Court decisions over possible pretrial restrictions for the two are pending.

Two more suspects, Vladyslav and Inna Hryshchenko, were arrested and placed in pretrial detention in September and November, respectively, as suspects in another case.

According to the Interior Ministry and the National Police, the group's goal was "to destabilize the political and social situation in Ukraine" by killing Sheremet.

Sheremet, a Belarusian-born Russian citizen who had made Kyiv his permanent home, was leaving his apartment to head to the 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.

Sheremet's mother, Lyudmila Sheremet, told RFE/RL on December 13 that she did not know if the suspects were guilty or not, but that she was afraid "that innocent people may be hurt" as officials try to show they're making headway on the case.

"Pavel is gone and nothing can bring him back. Of course I need the truth.... But it's hard to judge how close they got to the truth," she said in the interview.

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