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Court places surgeon in custody on suspicion of journalist's murder

Photo: LB.ua

Kyiv's Pecherskyy district court has placed army support volunteer and children's vascular surgeon Yuliya Kuzmenko in custody until 8 February 2020, an LB.ua correspondent has reported.

She is suspected of planting a car bomb which killed popular Belarus-born journalist Pavel Sheremet in central Kyiv on 20 July 2016.

Speaking in court, she denied the charges as nonsense and said that she had not heard about Sheremet until he was killed.

"I first heard about Sheremet on the day of his murder when I was at work and checked the news," she said.

Kuzmenko added that the charges levelled against her by police during a televised briefing on 12 December ruined her career.

Several MPs said that they were ready to stand surety for her.

Nevertheless, judge Serhiy Vovk decided to place her into custody.

The resolution was met with the audience shouting "Shame!"

The defence said that it would appeal against the court decision.

Investigators suspect serviceman and rock singer Andriy Antonenko (Riffmaster) of organising the murder of Pavel Sheremet. Police said he was fascinated by "ultranationalist ideas" and cultivated the "greatness of the Aryan race, division of society on ethnic grounds". According to police, the murder of Belarus-born Sheremet was to draw public attention to radical nationalist ideas.

Police also suspect him of involving volunteer medic and children's surgeion Yuliya Kuzmenko (Fox) and contract soldier Yana Duhar, as well as a number of unidentified persons, in his plan.

According to the investigation, it was Antonenko who directed the actions of the group members, distributed roles among them, bought ammunition, provided transporta and chose the time of the murder. Sheremet was watched for a long time by the suspects allegedly using wigs, sunglasses and replaceable clothes for disguise.

A few days before the crime, one of the suspects, Yana Duhar, allegedly came to Ivan Franko Street twice to establish where Sheremet was parking his car. Then, on the night of 20 July 2016, in the presence of Antonenko, Kuzmenko attached a home-made bomb to the bottom of the car. It was allegedly made using a hexogen explosive with components of a MON-50 anti-personnel mine and a remote-controlled electric detonator.

On the morning of that day, she waited for Sheremet to get into the car and drive up to the intersection, and set off the explosive device. As a result of the explosion, the journalist received serious injuries and died.

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