Sheremet at Open Library Debate

Pavel Sheremet, a Belarusian-born Russian journalist who worked in Belarus and Ukraine, died in a car explosion in Kyiv on July 20, 2016. The Ukraine Prosecutor’s Office said the explosion was caused by a bomb and called the journalist’s death a murder. Sheremet was a prominent journalist known for criticizing the Belarusian, Russian, and Ukrainian governments, and won numerous international awards for his reporting, including the Belarus PEN Center’s Adamovich Prize (1995), the Committee to Protect Journalists’ International Press Freedom Award (1998), and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Prize for Journalism and Democracy (2002).

Case History

During his career, Pavel Sheremet faced retaliation for criticising the regime of Belarus President Aleksander Lukashenko. He started his career in 1994 as anchor and producer of Prospekt, a Belarusian news program that was banned a year later by Lukashenko. In 1995, Sheremet started working for Belorusskaya Delovaya Gazeta and the Russian public TV company, ORT. That year, he won the Belarus PEN Center’s Adamovich Prize as best television reporter in Belarus. In 1997, he was a signatory and spokesman at the public of launch of Charter 97, a declaration advocating for democracy and an end to dictatorial regime in Belarus. That same year, he was permanently stripped of his journalistic accreditation. 

In 1998, Sheremet moved to Russia and became a special correspondent for ORT’s shows Novosti and Vremya, and later became Vremya’s anchor. In 2000, he began working on documentaries and special projects for Russia’s Channel One (former ORT). In 2008, he officially left Channel One after the company criticized him for accusing the Russian government of autocratic tendencies. 

In 2010, Sheremet was deprived of his Belarusian citizenship. Since 2011, he worked as anchor on two Russian channels, REN-TV and OTR. In 2012, he founded the website Istoricheskaya Pravda, or Historical Truth, to promote conversation among historians and students of history. In 2014 he resigned from PEN-TV and OTR due to disagreements with the channels’ position on events in Ukraine; in particular, he denounced Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its support of separatists in the Donbas. 

From 2012 to 2016, Sheremet authored a blog in Ukrayinska Pravda, an independent news outlet in Ukraine, containing his analyses and interviews with prominent Ukrainian political leaders, businessmen and artists. He was also an anchor of shows on Ukrainian channels TVi, since 2013, and Radio Vesti, since 2015, including Maundy Thursday, in which he exposed the corruption schemes of Ukrainian oligarchs. In addition, in July 2015, Sheremet started his own project, Dialogues, on Ukraine’s Channel 24, in which he had one-on-one conversations with prominent Ukrainian leaders. 

On July 20, 2016, Sheremet died in a car explosion in Kyiv that Ukrainian authorities labeled a murder. The investigation into the accident is ongoing.

To honor Sheremet’s legacy, the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum created the Sheremet Prize for contributions to media freedom. Its first recipient, announced on November 28, 2016, was Mykola Semena, a Ukrainian journalist reporting on Crimea who is currently on trial in Russia on charges of terrorism.