A Car Bomb Killed A Prominent Journalist In Ukraine

International rights groups are calling for a swift investigation into the death of Pavel Sheremet.

Journalist Pavel Sheremet was killed on Wednesday when a car bomb placed under the car he was driving exploded on his way to work in Kiev, Ukraine.

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Sheremet was born in Belarus but was a Russian citizen who worked in Moscow for years before leaving Russian Public Television (ORT) in 2014 over Russia's annexation of Crimea. An aide to Ukraine's interior minister was quoted in the Guardian saying that "investigators suspected a homemade explosive device of 400-600 grams of TNT equivalent that was possibly detonated remotely."

Sheremet had been targeted for his work before, having been jailed for illegally crossing into Lithuania and back from his native Belarus in 1997 and beaten and hospitalized in Minsk in 2004.

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After leaving Russia in 2014, Sheremet had been working for Ukrainska Pravda, a digital newspaper. He'd also kept up his criticism of Russia's policies towards Ukraine, saying that he believed that open war between the two countries was inevitable.

Rights groups swiftly condemned his murder.

Valentyn Ogirenko / Reuters

"The use of a car bomb is chilling evidence that Shermet and press freedom were likely not accidental targets,” Robert Herman, vice president for emergency assistance programs and multilateral advocacy at Freedom House, said in a statement.

Human Rights Watch called his death a "huge loss and striking reminder that the government needs to respond in the most serious way to threats to media freedom in Ukraine."

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Amnesty International likewise said Sheremet's death was a "heinous crime and the ultimate violation of the freedom to expression."

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"We honored Pavel Sheremet in 1998 with an International Press Freedom Award in recognition of his courage, his integrity, and his commitment to the highest ideals of journalism," Committee for the Protection of Journalists Executive Director Joel Simon said in an emailed statement.

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"He upheld those standards through his years even as he mentored and inspired a generation of journalists in Ukraine," Simon continued. "His killers cannot be allowed to get away with this terrible crime."

The rights groups called for swift and impartial investigations into the bombing.

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Khatiya Dekanoidze, head of Ukraine’s National Police, has said that she will personally take part in the investigation.