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We Will Soon See Russia Accused of the Murder of Journalist Pavel Sheremet in Kiev

Savvy Russian media professionals see a commercial motive behind the assassination of Pavel Sheremet

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

Pavel Sheremet is best remembered in Russia as Boris Berezovsky’s hired gun. In the 1990s, as the Minsk correspondent of ORT (Channel 1), then owned by the powerful oligarch, he was responsible for journalistic provocations against Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, who refused to grant Berezovsky’s businesses special privileges. One of these provocations – the illegal crossing of the Belarussian-Lithuanian border - landed him in prison, provoking an international "freedom of the press" campaign against "Europe’s last dictator", Lukashenko.

Subsequently, Sheremet moved to Russia to become Berezovsky’s "information killer" on ORT in the dirtiest ever Duma election campaign of 1999, in which the oligarch successfully fought to eliminate political opponents of Boris Yeltsin, such as Yevgeny Primakov.

This was probably the last trace he left in Russian national journalism before moving to the Ukraine. By a sinister irony of fate, Sheremet died in a car belonging to Alyona Pritula, ex-mistress of the journalist Georgy Gongadze, who had been decapitated in a run-up to the "Orange Revolution" of 2004, the blame being placed on then President Leonid Kuchma.

This would explain why many experienced Russian journalists refuse to consider their profession as the main reason for his assassination, predicting that the incident would be turned against Russia.

The forecast below, made almost immediately after Sheremet’s death, came true before RI had time to translate an editorial from NA Linii (On Line) magazine, which features some of the most knowledgeable conservative Russian columnists.

The well-known post-Soviet journalist Pavel Sheremet has been assassinated in Kiev. His car exploded as he approached it from his home.

Pavel Sheremet left Belorussia because he disagreed with the country’s policies in the 1990s. In 2014, he left Russia because he disagreed with its policies, in particular with respect to the coup in Ukraine and the following civil war in the Donbass.

He hosted TV and radio programs in Ukraine, and explained his departure in the following manner:

“I was more and more in disagreement with what was going on in Russia: I saw what was really going on in Ukraine, while there were fantasies about it in Russia. I talked to my friends and saw that they were going out of their mind. It was impossible to stay in that insane asylum: I had to leave in order not to either go crazy or become as stupid as your colleagues. I was not so much annoyed as disappointed, and was trying to show them what was really going on, but they called me a ‘libertard’ and a non-patriot. At some point, this got to me, and I understood that it was impossible to stay in the same boat with these people.

I didn’t abandon my citizenship. I love Russia, though I hate the current regime. Society has gone out of its mind there as well. Huge catastrophes and shocks await – this has been especially obvious since Nemtsov was killed.”

Pavel Sheremet lived and worked in Kiev, cooperating with Ukrayinska Pravda newspaper. The owner of the car that killed the journalist was the director of the periodical Alyona Pritula

By moving from Russia to Ukraine, Sheremet chose a regime controlled by oligarchs who constantly clashed with each other, using purges in tame state structures or force by so-called armed activists.    

In this situation, the chances of a journalist becoming an accidental or non-accidental victim increase drastically. However, we can expect “delayed revenge of the Kremlin" to feature as the main version in the Ukrainian media.

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