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People gather in front of the Ukrainian parliament during the inauguration on May 20, 2019, of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who campaigned on an anti-corruption platform. Cherkasy-based journalist Vadym Komarov, known for reporting on local corruption, died June 20 as the result of an assault six weeks earlier. (AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)

Ukrainian journalist Vadym Komarov dies six weeks after assault

June 20, 2019 2:15 PM ET

Washington, D.C., June 20, 2019 -Ukrainian investigative reporter Vadym Komarov died today as the result of an assault on May 4, local media reported. Unidentified men beat the Cherkasy-based journalist's head with a heavy object, one day after he posted on Facebook that he planned to publish news on alleged corruption in sports schools, according to CPJ research and media reports. Police have not identified the perpetrators or reported any progress in their investigation, according to the local rights group Kharkiv Human Rights Protection.

"Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was elected on an anti-corruption platform, but he will make no progress if journalists who try to investigate and report on wrongdoing end up dead," said Gulnoza Said, CPJ Europe and Central Asia program coordinator in New York. "We condemn the murder of Vadym Komarov and call on Ukrainian authorities to swiftly find his killers and bring them to justice, lest impunity embolden more would-be perpetrators."

In Ukraine, at least 12 journalists have been killed in line of duty since 1992, when CPJ started keeping records. In the most recent case of impunity, Belarusian-born Pavel Sheremet was murdered in a car bomb on July 20, 2016, in Kiev. In an open letter this month, CPJ called on Zelenskiy to prioritize press freedom and ensure the safety of journalists.

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