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article imageJournalist killed in Kiev car bombing buried in Belarus

By AFP     Jul 23, 2016 in World

Thousands of mourners in Belarus on Saturday bid farewell to prominent independent journalist Pavel Sheremet, killed by a car bomb in Kiev, as he was buried back in the homeland where he clashed with the authorities.

Sheremet -- who was born in Minsk but took Russian citizenship -- was blown up while driving near his home in the heart of the Ukrainian capital on Wednesday.

The murder of the 44-year-old reporter -- who worked for news site Ukrainska Pravda -- sent shock waves through the tight-knit journalisti community in crisis-hit Ukraine.

He began his career in his home country Belarus but left after confronting authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko and moved on to work in Russia and then later Ukraine.

"They killed a star of three different nations," Belarussian political activist Vladimir Neklyaev told AFP at the funeral ceremony. "We already miss him."

Sheremet was buried next to his father in a cemetery in Minsk after several thousand people attended a funeral service for him in a cathedral in the city.

"This was an attack on conscience, on truthful journalism -- an attack on our profession," said Zhanna Litvina, from the Belarussian journalist association.

Sheremet moved definitively to Ukraine after quitting working for Russian state TV in 2014 over his critical views of the Kremlin's tough stance on Ukraine.

He founded the popular Belarussky Partizan opposition website after being detained and expelled from his Belarus for his political attacks.

In Kiev, Sheremet was respected for criticising both the Kremlin and the mistakes Ukraine has made since severing ties with Moscow in a 2014 pro-EU revolution that was followed by a 27-month eastern separatist revolt.

Ukraine has asked the United States and the European Union for assistance in solving a murder that President Petro Poroshenko said may have been ordered from abroad -- a thinly-veiled reference to Russia.

Kiev investigators have so far been stymied by the crime and have not arrested any suspects.

Sheremet's killing stirred memories of the gruesome murder 16 years ago of Ukrainska Pravda's founder Giorgi Gongadze -- who was kidnapped and beheaded after probing graft at the highest levels.

Ukraine's pivot towards the West since 2014 had sparked hope among journalists of greater protection but authorities have failed to live up to promises to end the influence of oligarchs over the media.

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