KYIV -- Dozens of relatives, friends, colleagues, and other supporters gathered in the Ukrainian capital to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the killing of journalist Pavel Sheremet, whose death underscored concerns about a climate of impunity for attacks on journalists and others who challenge the authorities.
Sheremet, who worked for the online newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda, was leaving his apartment on July 20, 2016, to head to a studio to host a morning radio program when an improvised explosive device planted under his vehicle detonated and killed him.
Commemorations for the Belarusian-born Russian citizen who had made Ukraine his permanent home took place at a monument near the site where he was killed.
The anniversary put the spotlight back on the government, which has faced persistent criticism over a perceived lack of progress in solving the case.
In December 2019, Ukrainian investigators arrested three suspects in Sheremet's case -- Yana Duhar, Andriy Antonenko, and Yulia Kuzmenko. Duhar and Kuzmenko were later transferred to house arrest.
The trio took part in military operations in different capacities in Ukraine's east, where government forces are fighting against Russia-backed separatists.
The Interior Ministry and the National Police said in December that the trio's goal was "to destabilize the political and social situation in Ukraine" by killing Sheremet.
All three have denied any involvement in Sheremet's killing and their trial, which started a year ago, has stalled several times due to inconsistencies in the investigation.
Sheremet's mother and colleagues said earlier this week that they are seeking a meeting with Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskiy, whom lawmakers approved to the post on July 16, to discuss the lack of progress in the case.
Monastyrskiy has said he will evaluate the investigation of Sheremet's killing after the trial of Duhar, Antonenko, and Kuzmenko is over.
Some investigators have said that Sheremet’s killing might be linked to his investigative reports about fugitive Ukrainian tycoon and former politician Oleksandr Klymenko.
Others have suggested that secret services working for authoritarian Belarusian ruler Alyaksandr Lukashenka may have been involved in Sheremet’s killing. Until 2010, Sheremet was a Belarusian citizen and known for open his criticism of Lukashenka and his regime.