Murder of Aleksandr Panich, a journalist of the newspaper “Donetskie novosti”
In the middle of June a headless body was found in Kalmius river. The Donetsk prosecutor declared that it was the body of Aleksandr Panich, a journalist of the newspaper “Donetskie novosti”.
Aleksandr worked in the newspaper, which was in the scope of interests of the soccer club “Shakhter” and its president Rinat Akhmetov. Panich conducted journalists investigations. In autumn 2002 the conflict occurred between the Makeevka metallurgical plant (MMP) and the so-called “Donetsk group”. The conflict was caused by seizure of some property by the metallurgical plant, in particular, the Komsomolsk ore directorate and a former kolkhoz in a village of Privolnoe. The editorial board proposed to A. Panich to investigate these events and to clear up the role of MP Vladimir Boyko in this incident. “Donetskie novosti” published several acute materials on this topic. In November 2002 the open confrontation in the “Donetsk clan” stopped. Since that time Aleksandr did not come to the editorial board. The administration of the newspaper did not try to find out the reasons of his absence and fired him.
In the beginning of December Panichs sister turned to militia with the appeal about the disappearance of her brother. The prosecutors office started the case on… the murder of the journalist. At the same time it became known that Aleksandr had sold his flat, so the investigation began to consider the version about the murder because of money. At that, the investigators practically disregarded the professional activities of A. Panich, and mentioned his articles about the masters of the MMP only casually.
As well as in G. Gongadzes case, militia was looking for some drag addicts, which were allegedly connected with the murder of Panich. Two journalists, who had talked with Panich before the disappearance, appeared in the case. Then nobody recollected about “Panichs case” during seven months. And suddenly, as if by somebodys order, after the refusal of V. Boyko to join the parliamentary fraction “Regiony Ukrainy”, the law-enforcing organs resumed the active work. Approximately on 20 June they declared that journalists body had been found and the murderers had been arrested.
However, there are many unsolved questions in this case. For instance, Donetsk prosecutor Aleksandr Olmezov informed at a press conference that the proofs allowed to state for certain that it was Panich, whose body had been found. Yet, Aleksandr Sukhov, the head of the oblast bureau of forensic expertise, insists that “the body was not identified”. By the way, the suspected of this crime was released after giving a written undertaking not to leave a place.
This information was communicated by our colleagues from “Donetskie novosti”.
(«Svoboda», No. 28, 15-21 July 2003)