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19 Feb, 2014 15:30

Ukrainian journalist dies of gunshot wounds in Kiev attack

Ukrainian journalist dies of gunshot wounds in Kiev attack

A Ukrainian reporter has died of a gunshot wound after masked men attacked him on the way home in central Kiev. His colleagues suspect the attack was not accidental.

The journalist, Vyacheslav Veremyi, of the local “Vremya” (“Time”) pro-government newspaper died early on Wednesday morning of a gunshot to the chest while doctors were trying to save him.

“Early this morning, Kiev correspondent, Vyacheslav Veremyi, died in hospital,” said Vesti, a Russian-language daily, in the statement. “Vyacheslav received a bullet wound to the chest. He succumbed to his injuries due to blood loss.”

The reporter and his colleague, IT specialist Aleksey Lymarenko were in a taxi on their way home. As the taxi driver stopped at traffic lights, a group of “unknown men with bats and weapons, in hard hats, camouflage and black masks” ambushed the car.

They pulled the reporter, his colleague and the driver from the car and beat them up, the paper said. The latter two sustained severe injuries, with Aleksey Lymarenko’s face being seriously maimed.

The attack occurred about 800 meters away from Independence Square, where clashes between police and protesters were raging on.

The newspaper released a graphic video of the attack on its reporter.

As the newspaper’s deputy editor-in-chief said, Lymarenko managed to return to the office and raise the alarm about the attack.

“We could not reach Vyacheslav on the phone. For about an hour we were looking for him, and started ringing around the hospitals. At one of the hospitals they said Vyacheslav was there. He had been in surgery since 1am and only at about 5am were we informed that he died,” the deputy editor-in-chief told Russia’s LifeNews channel

It is still unknown who was behind the attack.

According to witnesses’ accounts, the so called "titushki" – Ukrainian slang for hired thugs – were roaming the streets in that area and there had been attacks reported shortly before they ambushed the reporter’s taxi.

At the same time, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief says he does not believe that the attack was accidental.

“The situation, when a car gets attacked and it’s doing nothing wrong, is certainly not typical for Kiev,” Igor Guzhva told LifeNews. “There are different testimonies, but it is obvious: we need to do something about this outrage. Journalists and citizens are suffering at [the hands] of bandits, no matter how they are affiliated politically.”

Guzhva did not rule out that the violence could be linked to the reporter’s work in the newspaper - Vyacheslav Veremyi was just back “in the field” after a month-long sick leave. Covering violent riots in Kiev last month, he sustained severe eye injuries and partly lost his sight.

“It looks like a random attack, because Vyacheslav was on his way home from work. But there are certain things that indicate that it was not a coincidence. We are conducting our own investigation and perhaps it really was not a random attack,” he said. “In fact, this is the first journalist, who was killed during the unrest, and there is no reaction. I want to emphasize this. This surprises us and raises certain questions,” Guzhva stressed.

The newspaper said that Veremyi was its “leading journalist,” who had been reporting on the protests on Kiev’s Independence Square over the past three months. Vyacheslav leaves a wife and a small son.