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Serious concern over the disappearance of Kharkiv journalist Vasyl Klymentyev


Authorities urged to do everything possible to find missing newspaper editor

Reporters Without Borders calls for a thorough and transparent investigation into the disappearance of Vasyl Klymentyev, the editor of a regional investigative weekly based in the northeastern city of Kharkiv. Klymentyev was last seen on the morning of 11 August getting into an unknown person’s metallic-grey car outside his home.

His mobile phone was found a few days later in a boat adrift on Pechenizke reservoir, near Kharkiv. Police used dogs to search the area without success.

Klymentyev’s newspaper, Novyy Styl, specialises in covering corruption, local government irregularities and social injustice, and his colleagues think his disappearance is linked to his work. Deputy editor Petro Matviyenko said: “Vasyl often wrote about corrupt officials and that was probably the reason for his disappearance.”

A few days before his disappearance, Klymentyev had been preparing a report about a 30-hectare stretch of land outside Martove, a village not far from Kharkiv, where – according to local residents – trees were being felled by regional director of taxes Stanislav Denysyuk.

The investigation has been marked by several strange developments. Klymentyev’s son Oleg said he allowed the police into his father’s house to look around but they apparently found nothing of any significance. The next day, he said, Dzerzhynskiy district police arrived at his father’s home, forced the front door and, without showing a warrant, took away items without completing an inventory. As the case had not yet been defined as criminal, the police had no right to conduct a search.

Another surprising development was the decision by the judicial authorities on 14 August to categorise the case as a possible “premeditated murder” under article 115 of the criminal code although the family had just reported the case as a “disappearance.”

Reporters Without Borders hopes that the authorities will give the case all the attention it deserves and that Klymentyev will soon be found alive.

Reporters Without Borders visited Ukraine last month in order to meet with journalists, media representatives, parliamentarians and government officials and to evaluate the press freedom situation, which has deteriorated markedly in recent months. At a news conference at the end of the visit, Reporters Without Borders urged the authorities to “defend press freedom with more energy.”


Journalist goes missing in eastern Ukraine

New York, August 18, 2010--The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about the whereabouts of Vasyl Klymentyev, chief editor and reporter for the Kharkiv-based weekly newspaper Novyi Stil (New Style), who has been missing for a week.

According to local news reports, on August 11, Klymentyev was seen leaving his home in the city of Kharkiv, in eastern Ukraine, with an unknown man in a BMW. The reports did not specify who saw Klymentyev that day. He has not been seen or heard from since. The journalist’s girlfriend reported his disappearance to authorities on August 12, Kharkiv regional police said in a statement. On Sunday, investigators with Kharkiv’s Dzerzhinsky District Police Department opened a criminal case classified under the criminal code as "premeditated murder," the statement said. They have not named any suspects or motives in the case.

Mikhail Dobkin, governor of the Kharkiv region, told journalists that classifying the case as a murder rather than a disappearance allows investigators to use more tools to search for Klymentyev, the Russian service of the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.


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