Belarusian trace in the case of the murder of Pavel Sheremet
Investigating Pavel Sheremet’s death | Part 1
Pavel Sheremet’s Belarusian colleagues believe that full information about those who ordered his murder will appear only after the fall of the Lukashenka regime&# 160;
The audio recording disclosed by Igor Makar, a former employee of the Belarusian special forces “Almaz”, directly points to the “Belarusian trace” in the investigation of the murder of Pavel Sheremet.
A well-known Belarusian and Russian journalist, who settled in Ukraine in the last years of his life, died in Kiev on July 20, 2016 as a result of an explosive device detonated in his car. After the initiation of a criminal case on the fact of premeditated murder, the adviser to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Zoryan Shkiryak said that three versions were being considered: hostile relations, professional activities, as well as a certain “Russian trace”.
Pavel Sheremet was deported from Belarus after his release from prison at the request of the President of the Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin, where the journalist was imprisoned in July 1997. The reason for the conclusion was an investigative report on the situation on the Belarusian-Lithuanian border. For many years Pavel Sheremet was considered one of the main critics of the regime of Alexander Lukashenko.
Forced to leave the country, he then worked for several years in Russia as a TV presenter, head of the special projects department of the ORT channel. As a documentary filmmaker and editor of the political section of the Ogonyok magazine, he participated in the coverage of the most significant events in Russia and the post-Soviet space.
Among the films made by Sheremet, there are two parts of “Wild Hunt” – a journalistic investigation about the physical destruction of political opponents by the regime of Alexander Lukashenko. Recently, Pavel worked as an executive director in the Kiev edition of “Ukrainian Truth”.
The correspondent of the Russian service “Voice of America” talked with the Belarusian colleagues of Pavel Sheremet and tried to find out their attitude to the version of the “Belarusian trace” in the investigation of the murder of the journalist.
“Perhaps, after some time we will learn new information”
Political analyst, journalist “Belsat” Igor Ilyash believes that these tapes are authentic and that “such a plan, such a project was really prepared by Lukashenka and his special services”. Igor Ilyash also recalls that the released tapes refer to the events of 2012, when another crisis broke out in relations between Belarus and the West. In particular, in response to a new package of Western sanctions, ambassadors of Poland and the European Union were expelled from the country. And Lukashenka again spoke about “traitors inside the country.” In fact, it was (according to Ilyash) “those who criticize the regime and influence its perception in the international arena.” Returning to the topic of the “Belarusian trace”, the interlocutor of the Russian service of the “Voice of America” notes that Pavel Sheremet “worked on pain points, but to say that we are talking about a specific compromising material that he had in his hands – after all, there is no reason for this. … And although everything that we heard on the tape is true, it does not mean that the Belarusian special services were behind the murder of Sheremet. “.
Ilyash explains his doubts by the fact that by the summer of 2016 Lukashenka had managed to improve his image in the West, thanks to the international negotiations held in Minsk on the situation in Donbass. In addition, he somewhat eased domestic repression. Therefore, it was politically unprofitable for him to “order” the murder of an opposition journalist abroad. “But I admit that I just don’t know something. Perhaps, after some time, we will learn a large piece of new information, and then my assessment will change and these events can be looked at differently, ”concluded the political analyst at“ Belsat ”.
“Lukashenka is an extremely vindictive person, to which there is numerous confirmation”
Deputy Director of Belsat TV Aleksey Dzikavitsky (Alyaksei Dzikavitski) remembered his acquaintance with Pavel Sheremet, who was a frequent guest of Belsat broadcasts. In the case of the murder of a journalist, Dzikavitsky generally agrees with the point of view of Igor Ilyash: “I do not undertake to assert one hundred percent that this was done by the Belarusian special services. But we must understand that Lukashenka is an extremely vindictive person, for which there are numerous confirmations. Therefore, I would not be surprised that Lukashenka remembers such an “enemy” of his as Sheremet.
After all, despite the fact that Pavel had not lived in Belarus for a long time, he remained an implacable critic of Lukashenka, recalled that on his hands the blood of many murdered politicians. And I fully admit that there could be plans for revenge on Pavel, ”said the deputy director of Belsat TV in an interview with the Voice of America correspondent..
Alyaksei Dzikavitskiy also mentioned about “death squads” whose members are suspected of eliminating Lukashenka’s political opponents on his orders. By the way, Pavel Sheremet made a documentary film “Wild Hunt” about these “squadrons”.
According to Dzikavitsky, there is reason to believe that at the end of the 90s, “death squads” were involved in the elimination of such opponents of Lukashenka as the chairman of the Belarusian Central Election Commission Viktor Gonchar, general director of the Krasiko firm Anatoly Krasovsky and former Minister of Internal Affairs Yury Zakharenko. “We can say with a great deal of confidence that there are groups that operate outside the law and are directly subordinate to Lukashenka himself. Their task is to deal with people disagreeable to the authorities, ”says Aleksey Dzikavitskiy and, completing his comment, emphasizes that the crimes that were and are being committed by the Lukashenka regime should not be forgotten. Indeed, in many respects they were a consequence of the fact that the whole truth about the crimes of the NKVD on the territory of Belarus in the Stalin years was not revealed. And the riot police who beat girls with red and white flowers at recent protests should know that their actions will not go unpunished.
“I recalled Paul’s words while lying on the prison cabinet”
Own correspondent of “Novaya Gazeta” in Minsk Irina Khalip at the beginning of her conversation with the Voice of America correspondent, she said that Ukrainian investigators should first of all pay attention to the released audio recording. She continued: “In any case, I hope that Paul’s murder will be properly investigated and solved. But if we consider the version of the participation of the Belarusian special services, then, in my opinion, full information about this may appear only after Lukashenka leaves. You understand how many similar conversations there were in various offices! “Death squadron” has not been canceled, and they have been operating since the 90s. Information goes in very dosed, small portions, and in order to fully disclose their activities, a normal independent investigation will be required – disclosure of archives, witness testimony. Because the regime, which is based on bayonets, jealously guards its secrets. “.
Irina Khalip also recalled her personal communication with Pavel Sheremet at the time when they worked together in the newspaper. According to her, Paul gave her advice, which she appreciated much later. This happened after Sheremet was released from the Belarusian prison: “He told me – you know, Khalip, you will also be imprisoned sooner or later. Remember, the first thing that will happen to you there is that they will convince you that no one cares about you, you are the day before yesterday’s news, no one is fighting for you, today there is other news and everyone has forgotten about you. They did just that to me, I didn’t believe it and did the right thing..
Years passed, I was imprisoned in 2010. And the first thing that I remembered when I was summoned to the head of the pre-trial detention center was Pavel’s advice. Later I recalled these words, lying on the prison bunk, down to the intonations, as he said it. And, believe me, it was absolutely invaluable help from him. Later, when I left, we did not meet with him – I was “restricted to travel abroad”, and he was “restricted from entry” to Belarus, but we corresponded, and I managed to thank him for these words. “.
Commenting on the version of the “Belarusian trace” that has emerged in recent days, the Novaya Gazeta correspondent noted that she did not think that “the Ukrainian special services are conducting the investigation poorly, so I cannot say that Pavel Sheremet was killed by the Belarusian special services until we receive complete information. … I think that Ukrainian investigators will unravel this tangle too. Nevertheless, I do not exclude the possibility that some groups are already acting independently, without waiting for orders, taking any hysterical shout from Lukashenka as an order. In no case do I want to assert that Lukashenka was not involved (in the murder of Pavel Sheremet – A.P.). He is involved! To all the political murders that took place in Belarus for many years in a row, ending with the murder of Roman Bondarenko on November 12, 2020 in front of the entire Belarusian people, ”concluded Iryna Khalip.