Vyacheslav Veremiy

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Veremiy, a 32-year-old reporter for the Kiev-based daily newspaper Vesti, died at a Kiev hospital where he was treated for severe blood loss after being shot in the chest the day before, his employer reported. According to news reports, the journalist was assaulted by a group of armed and masked men whom he had allegedly filmed from a car at an intersection in downtown Kiev.

Vesti said the assailants stopped the taxi that Veremiy and Aleksei Lymarenko, his colleague at the news outlet, were taking home from work late on February 18. The assailants forced the journalists and the driver out of the vehicle and brutally attacked them with baseball bats. They also shot Veremiy in the chest.

Vesti, which carried out an independent investigation into the attack, cited statements by the driver and Lymarenko in its report that said that Veremiy was targeted because he started filming the assailants from the taxi.

A local news website, TSN, published a video of the attack on Veremiy, which was recorded by the witnesses. The footage showed several men beating Veremiy with baseball bats until he was able to escape to seek help from the passers-by.

Vesti reviewed videos taken at the scene and alleged that Vermiy was killed by a group of pro-government protesters, who are known locally as "titushki."

The attack came amid an escalation of the violence across Ukraine. Clashes between police and protesters began in November 2013 following President Viktor Yanukovych's decision to reverse his regime's course over association with the European Union. The demonstrations spread nationwide, news reports  said. Vermiy had been covering the violence.

Vesti reported that Veremiy was also injured while covering protests in Kiev in January 2014. The journalist was wounded in his left eye and left arm when a stun grenade exploded near him, the reports said.

Kiev police opened an investigation into his killing.>

In 2015, authorities named the suspected gunman as Jalal Aliyev, who is allegedly one of the “titushki” whom Krysin hired, according to  reports

Aliyev and several other suspects are still on the run,  according to the Interior Ministry. 

On December 8, 2017, Ukraine’s Minister of Interior Arsen Avakov told the BBC Ukrainian Service that some of those involved in the attack on Veremiy, including a man named Yuri Krysin, had been detained.

According to reports, Krysin pleaded guilty and told a judge that he received US$20,000 from an unidentified person to hire “titushki” and organize disturbances during anti-government protests in Kiev.

On December 22, 2017, a district court in Kiev found Krysin guilty of beating Veremiy with a baseball bat, and sentenced him to four years in prison, Ukrainian media reported. The sentence includes a two-year suspended term, with the remaining two years in jail dropped if he does not re-offend.

On December 28, 2017, the general prosecutor’s office filed an appeal against the verdict calling it “incorrect” and “insufficient.” 

Media, members of parliament and the National Union of Journalists have expressed concern about the verdict and called on the authorities, including President Petro Poroshenko, to ensure that it is overturned. Protests against the verdict were organized in central Kiev on December 25, 2017.       

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