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Ukrainian police investigate audio recordings discussing journalist’s murder

Published: Updated:

Ukrainian police said on Monday they were investigating documents and audio recordings dating back to 2012 about plans to murder a Belarusian journalist who was subsequently killed by a car bomb in Kiev in 2016.

The police released a statement on the case on the same day as online newspaper EUobserver published a recording of what it said was the Belarusian KGB security service in 2012 discussing plans to kill investigative journalist Pavel Sheremet.

The Ukrainian police gave few details of the audio recordings it is looking into and did not identify any suspects.

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If the veracity of the recording published by EUobserver is confirmed, it would increase suspicions that Belarus’s KGB was involved in killing Sheremet, a critic of the Belarusian leadership under President Alexander Lukashenko.

The Belarusian KGB did not reply to a request for comment.

In the recording, which EUobserver said it obtained through a Belarusian opposition activist, plans are discussed to kill enemies of Lukashenko’s rule with poison or explosives.

The Ukrainian police said they obtained their own material through the country’s foreign intelligence service.

Fragments of the information they obtained “have been published on the internet. Unidentified persons are discussing the murder of journalist Pavel Sheremet,” the police statement said.

Lukashenko has cracked down on protests since a disputed election in August which his opponents say was rigged. Lukashenko has denied electoral fraud.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy made investigating the killing a priority when he came to power two years ago.

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Three Ukrainian suspects are on trial in Ukraine in connection with the killing but the authorities have not established who ordered the murder. The suspects deny wrongdoing.

Sheremet was given Russian citizenship after fleeing alleged persecution in Belarus but relocated permanently to Ukraine in 2014 after no longer feeling safe in Moscow.

Sheremet worked for the online news website Ukrayinska Pravda whose founder, Georgiy Gongadze, was also murdered in 2000. Gongadze’s decapitated body was discovered in a forest outside Kiev.