KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian police on Thursday arrested several suspects in the car-bomb killing of a prominent journalist three years ago, but officials said they haven’t yet determined who ordered the killing.
Belarus-born journalist Pavel Sheremet was killed in the center of Kiev on July 20, 2016. Ukrainian authorities have been long criticized for their failure to track down the perpetrators.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that while the suspected perpetrators were arrested, investigators do not yet know who ordered Sheremet’s killing.
The suspects arrested include well-known veterans of the five-year war with Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said the arrests follow a “difficult and persistent” investigation, which yielded results he described as “sensational and shocking.”
“The public should understand the difference between patriotism and treason,” Avakov said.
Deputy national police chief Yevhen Koval said the suspects had aimed to destabilize the “social and political situation in Ukraine” with the high-profile killing.
One of the suspects, Andrii Antonenko, announced his arrest on Facebook and said that his apartment was being searched. Antonenko, a rock musician, served as a special forces sergeant during the fighting in the east.
Others were identified as Iuliia Kuzmenko, a doctor who helped troops in the east as a volunteer, and Yana Dugar, a soldier who fought in the conflict.
Koval charged that Antonenko and Kuzmenko were accused of planting an explosive device under Sheremet’s car. He said investigators relied on footage from surveillance cameras and other evidence.
Police identified two other suspects, who are in custody on charges related to a different criminal case. They haven’t yet been formally accused of their involvement in Sheremet’s killing.
The fighting in eastern Ukraine erupted in 2014 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. It has killed more than 14,000 people and devastated Ukraine’s industrial heartland.