On May 4, the journalist Vadym Komarov was attacked in Cherkasy. One month and a half later, the journalist died in hospital. On August 12, a hundred days have passed since the blatant crime, but it has not yet been solved. IMI focuses on the key points in this case.
At about nine in the morning of May 4, Saturday, almost in city center some passers-by saw a man with a broken head and unconscious. They called the ambulance and the police. The victim was a local journalist Vadym Komarov. A couple of tens of minutes earlier, the victim was walking out of the market along Heavenly Hundred Street, where an unknown man suddenly attacked him at the intersection with Nadpilnaya, causing him injuries and then fled from the scene.
Komarov with an open brain injury is delivered to the 3rd Cherkasy city hospital, where they operated him for two hours. At that time, police already opened criminal proceedings and asked all those who eye-witnessed the attack to contact the police. The case was qualified under Article 121 of the Criminal Code (intentional grievous bodily harm). After surgery, the journalist stayed in a coma. His condition is critical. Doctors said that in this condition, life support will last at least a month, and iindicated that a penetrating blow to the head would have been caused by a hammer. On May 5, investigators re-qualified the proceedings under Articles 15 and 115 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (“Attempted Assassination”).
Scene of the crime
The media community of the city immediately began to relate the attack with Vadym’s professional activity. “Hromadske television: Cherkassy” advanced four leads what they could beat Komarov for:
- On the eve, 1st of May, Komarov posted on his Facebook page a post about problems and rebellion in Cherkasy penitentiary facility # 62.In particular, he also accused the colony’s management of the illegal sale of alcohol and drugs and other abuses.
- The journalist has repeatedly criticizing the activities of the representatives of “Svoboda” national-wide union in Cherkasy – deputies of the mayor Yuri Botnar and Igor Kolomoyts, director of the Department of education and humanitarian policy of the Cherkasy city council Serhiy Voronov.On the eve of the beating, the journalist promised to publish information about the row between the deputy mayor Yuri Botnar and the director of the Spartak youth sport school Tetyana Bordovska. Later, this video footage based on Komarov’s materials was released by human rights activist, journalist and Komarov’s colleague Valery Makeev. The latter also noted that Vadym Komarov was going to receive from one of his information sources some more documents that compromised one of the mentioned high-ranking officials.
- Another incident which could cause attack, as to “Hromadske”, was a scandal surrounding the reconstruction of a two-storey building on Kobzarskaya Street, 1 in Cherkasy.A crisis center for women victims of violence should be located there. “Deputy Director of the Department of education and humanitarian policy Bogdan Belov had signed a positive conclusion to the private commercial structure Sokol-5000, using which this firm managed to win a tender for 4.6 million hryvnias ($182 623). However, as it turned out, the conclusion was based on falsified data. Therefore, the result of this tender should be canceled, ” – Vadym Komarov wrote on Facebook. In fact, the bidding was worth less: UAH 3.5 million (around $139 thousand). And a few days after the attack, on May 6, they were canceled.
- Vadym Komarov also wrote about how the head of the Chigirin regional state administration Volodymyr Klymenko dismissed the head of the department of education of the Chigirin district administration Kateryna Nevgodenko for someone else’s fault – a road accident, committed by a school bus driver. On May 3, Vadim wrote on Facebook that after the resumption of Kateryna Negodenko, the head of the Chigirin RSA went missing.
Only through the period from 2009 to 2012, Vadym Komarov appealed to the police for 189 times, which is mentioned in one of the court rulings in his case.
The police are also considering the lead, according to which he had been beaten due to his professional activity, as deputy chief of the Investigative directorate of the police in Cherkasy region Oleksander Zaporozhets said at a briefing on June 5. They also consider the hypothesis of a sudden conflict with the attacker and assault mercenary purposes, although the victim’s belongings remained intact. More than 1,200 people were interviewed, more than 100 surveillance cameras were processed, information and things that could be of probative importance were seized by police.
On June 20, after 46 days in a coma, Vadym Komarov died at the 3rd Cherkasy municipal hospital. His case was requalified as premeditated murder. On the same day, the police holds a meeting with the first deputy head of the National police, the chief of criminal police, Vyacheslav Abroskin. The police made public video from surveillance cameras and facial composit of the alleged perpetrator. This is a tall man (about 190 cm), has a slim figure, slouch. The head is shaved or completely bald. On the day of the crime, he was dressed in a black jacket and pants. On the head is a black baseball cap with an emblem. The shoes are boots of the Soviet type. When walking, it takes a fairly wide step.
A number of national and international organizations have urged to find and bring to account those responsible for the murder. In particular, such as the OSCE , Reporters Without Borders , PACE,and the United Nations Monitoring Mission .
On July 10, the press informed the police had identified a person allegedly involved in the murder of journalist Vadym Komarov. On May 23, during a search of the place of residence of that person, the hammer and ax were seized, which could be the instrument of committing the crime. This was said in the decision of the Prydniprovsky district court of Cherkasy, which authorized molecular-genetic examination of seized items. Earlier, according to another ruling, a pipe fragment found near the crime scene was sent for examination.
The ruling dated of July 25said that an “underboss” jailed in Cherkassy penitentiary facility #62 could be involved in this murder. “Since PERSON_2 repeatedly speaking to his cellomates, with whom he is serving his sentence, reported that the PERSON_1 (journalist) by publishing his articles about Cherkasy penitentiary negatively affected his relations with the management of the penitentiary, and added that something needed to be done to prevent such articles to be published anymore online, “- case files read.. The investigation requested an authorization to temporarily transfer the convicted to Cherkasy detention center to probe into these facts. However, the judge denied the motion.
Finally, analyzing the court’s rulings in this case, we see that the police had several suspects in the course of the investigation, as it repeatedly asked to authorize an examination of objects seized in searches belonging to persons who allegedly would have been involved in thids crime, namely examination of shoes , clothing similar to these fixed by security camera. Also, on dozens occasions, police have asked the court to allow access to information regarding the phone numbers belonging to holders who would have been involved or holders who were present in the area of the crime. Once, the investigation sought the court’s permission to analyze the blood of the allegedly involved person. However, the police did not make loud statements about progress of the case.
On July 30, the Prydniprovsky district court of Cherkasy allowed the investigation to check the personal belongings and documents of the father of the deputy mayor of Cherkasy, Andriy Botnar, who, according to the police, may be involved in the attack of Vadym Komarov. The deputy mayor Yuri Botnar himself was indignant at such actions, qualified it as a political order and stated that neither him, nor his father had been involved in the attack on the journalist.
The latest ruling, published in the National register of judgments on July 31 concerned the request of the investigators toauthorise the computerized examination of the victim’s phone, including the analysis of information that may have been deleted. By the way, based on information from court decisions , the police seized the victim’s phones only on July 5, two months after the attack.
At the same time, on July 31, the head of the main directorate of the police in Cherkasy region Valery Lyuty reported on the progress of the investigation to the president during his visit to Cherkasy region. Asked by the head of state, whether he could define the term of solving the crime, Valery Lyuty pointed out that such crimes usually have an instigator, so it is difficult to forecast the term, because it is necessary to collect a serious evidence base, as web-based edition “18000” reported.
“The investigation in underway, but for now there were no substantial facts or reports that the investigators could allow to make public,” – Dmitry Gryshchenko, the head of communications department at the National police directorate in Cherkasy region, told interviewed by IMI.
They used to call Vadym Komarov, 57, blogger or activist. However, he often published his texts and video broadcasts in various editions, or the editions themselves took materials from his Facebook page. He was involved in making several TV programs and was a guest of the programs. Earlier, he worked for a several years for “Antena” newspaper and published his own newspaper “Factor”. In April 2018, he founded the newspaper “Cherkaski vidhuky”. He was also a member of the Public council affiliated to the Cherkasy regional state administration and was an adviser to the Mayor of Cherkasy.
This was not the first attempt against Vadym Komarov. on September 7th, 2016, in Cherkassy some unknown person fired a shot at Vadym Komarov, but the bullet hit the wall. The offender came to his home and fired from six meters, but hit the bullet into the wall. “The only thing I could relate it to, and this is, so-speaking, with a great reserve, is the criminal cases of the company “Freestyle”. About 2 million have been pocketed by the director. Non-payment of a large sum of money to the budget. The former police officer patronized them. This is one scheme I could formally relate to. And the second is the judge Bondarenko and the judge Troyan. They issued the decision based on the forged documents. I wrote a letter about it to the law enforcement agencies, ” – Komarov commented on the attack. He also noted that this is the second armed attack on him. He survived the first attack 25 years ago when he was working on a journalistic investigation about some prosecutors’s activity.
In July 2017, during a public meeting in Vadim Komarova, an employee of one of the construction companies belonging to the deputy of the regional council was beaten in the Mytnytsya district. The reason for this, allegedly, was that an activist opposed to the real estate development near the Dnieper.
By Zakhar Kolisnichenko, IMI correspondent in Cherkasy region