On February 19, 2014, Vyacheslav Veremiy, a 32-year-old reporter for the Kyiv-based daily newspaper Vesti, died at a Kyiv 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 attacked by a group of armed and masked men whom he had allegedly filmed from a car at an intersection in downtown Kyiv.
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, attacked them with baseball bats, and shot Veremiy in the chest.
Vesti carried out an independent investigation into the attack, citing statements by the driver and Lymarenko saying that Veremiy was targeted because he started filming the assailants from the taxi.
Local news website TSN published a video of the attack on Veremiy recorded by witnesses. Vesti reviewed videos taken at the scene and alleged that Veremiy was beaten and shot by a group of pro-government protesters, who are known locally as "titushki."
Mass protests had begun in Ukraine in November 2013 under then President Viktor Yanukovych. Veremiy had been covering the protests and clashes among police and protesters in Kiev in what came to be known as the Euromaidan.
Kiev police opened an investigation into the killing. In 2015, authorities named the suspected gunman as Jalal Aliyev, allegedly a “titushki” hired by a man named Yuri Krysin, according to reports.
Several other suspects were still on the run as of 2014, according to the Interior Ministry. Unofficial sources reported that the alleged gunman, Aliyev, had been killed in July 2015 while fighting on the side of the Russia-backed separatists in the Donetsk People’s Republic, Ukrainian news agency UNIAN reported.
On December 8, 2017, Ukrainian Minister of Interior Arsen Avakov told the BBC Ukrainian Service that some of those involved in the attack on Veremiy, including Krysin, had been detained.
According to reports, Krysin pleaded guilty and told a judge that he received $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 included a two-year suspended term, with the remaining two years in jail dropped if he did 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 expressed concern about the verdict and called on authorities, including then President Petro Poroshenko, to ensure that it was overturned. Protests against the verdict were organized in central Kiev on December 25, 2017.
On June 13, 2018, a Kiev court overturned the verdict and sentenced Krysin to five years in prison on charges of hooliganism relating to the attack on Veremiy, the Kyiv Post and Ukrainian nongovernmental organization Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group reported. In September 2019, the court denied Krysin’s appeal to overturn that sentence, according to news reports.