Friday, August 20, 2010

Media: Ukraine - editor who targets public officials, missing presumed dead

Source: IFEX

(IMI/IFEX) - On 17 August 2010, passersby found a mobile phone belonging to missing journalist Vasyl Klymentyev. The phone was found on a boat on the Pechenizhske man-made lake in Kharkiv, according to information the Kharkiv regional police department provided to the UNIAN news agency.

Klymentyev's common-law wife alerted the police to the journalist's disappearance on 12 August. The last time Klymentyev was seen, on 11 August, he was getting into a BMW car, accompanied by an unidentified individual.

"Ukrayinska Pravda" reported that the Kharkiv police started searching for Klymentyev, who is the editor-in-chief of the local "Noviy Stil" newspaper.

After two days of searching, the police were unable to find Klymentyev and on 15 August the Dzerzhynskiy district police in Kharkiv initiated criminal proceedings for "premeditated murder", the police said.

"Noviy Stil" is known for its criticism of law enforcement bodies. According to his colleagues, Klymentyev's last trip was on an assignment in which he went to take photographs of the cottage of a tax administration official.

"He has been publishing very extensive reports fearlessly," Nonna Zotova, his colleague and the secretary of the Kharkiv branch of the union of journalists, said.

Another one of Klymentyev's colleagues, Andriy Voytsekhovskiy, has no doubts that the disappearance is linked to the editor's professional activities. "He went to meet an informer and disappeared. An alert was immediately issued because he was expected to come back. After taking photographs of the cottage, he was going to meet with someone and he went missing. Unfortunately, there is no clear information," Voytsekhovskiy said.

Among the individuals whom Klymentyev's newspaper had denounced in its reports are Stanislav Denisyuk, the Kharkiv regional superior tax officer, and deputy public prosecutor Serhiy Khachatryan. Some sources said Klymentyev went to photograph a cottage owned by Denisyuk.

A journalist and MP from NUNS (Our Ukraine - People's Self Defence Bloc), Volodymyr Aryev, speculated that police are withholding information on the Klymentyev case. "Somebody from the law enforcement departments probably knows something and that's why they initiated the proceedings for this to be handled as a murder investigation, but I cannot confirm this," Aryev said.

In 2008, Klymentyev filed a complaint with the public prosecutor's office, saying he was under surveillance. At that time, "Noviy Stil" journalists took photographs of Klymentyev's pursuers, but the license plate numbers they obtained were found to be fake and there was no follow up on the issue.