The killing of veteran journalist Pavel Sheremet is a grievous blow against critical journalism in Eastern Europe and demands a serious response from authorities, PEN America said today. Sheremet, an award-winning journalist who was known for his hard-hitting investigative journalism, was killed by a car bomb in Kiev, Ukraine, on the morning of July 20th. Ukrainian authorities have already labeled his death a homicide.

Throughout his career, Sheremet had been an outspoken critic of political leaders in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine. Sheremet was a vocal opponent of Russia’s actions in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, and resigned in protest from his position at Russian broadcasting agency OTR in 2014. At the time of his death, Sheremet was living in Ukraine and working for Ukrainska Pravda, a Ukrainian website known for its investigative journalism.

“The shocking murder of Pavel Sheremet demonstrates the incredible risks that investigative journalists face in the region of Eastern Europe,” said Suzanne Nossel, executive director of PEN America. ”The Ukrainian authorities must conduct a full, impartial, and effective investigation into his death, and his killers must be held accountable.”

Sheremet was widely acknowledged as a crusader against political abuses, both in his native Belarus and in the neighboring countries of Russia and Ukraine, where he worked and lived at different points in his life. His journalism had repeatedly put him on the frontlines of danger and abuse. In 1997, while reporting on border smuggling between Belarus and Russia, Sheremet was arrested and sentenced to two years in prison, although this sentence was later suspended. Sheremet’s cameraman, Dmitry Zavadsky, was disappeared in 2000 while covering fighting in Chechnya. Sheremet was also hospitalized in 2004 after being badly beaten while covering an election in Belarus.

For his courageous journalism, Sheremet had received several awards, including the Belarusian PEN Center’s Adamovich Prize in 1995 for his television reporting. Sheremet also received the International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists in 1998, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Prize for Journalism and Democracy in 2002.

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Sarah Edkins, Deputy Director for Communications: +1 646-779-4830, sedkins@pen.org