Tough reporting earned Sheremet enemies in three countries

Lyudmila Sheremet, pictured looking at photos of her son in her Minsk apartment, says investigators have rarely provided her with updates into her son’s murder investigation. (Christopher Miller)

KIEV — Olena Prytula was sleeping so deeply that her mind would not be fully alerted to the real-life nightmare unfolding outside her door until she came face to face with it.

It was around 7:40 a.m. on July 20, 2016, and Prytula’s common-law partner, the Belarusian-born journalist Pavel Sheremet, had kissed her goodbye as he did every morning before driving her car to work at Kiev’s Radio Vesti, where he hosted a daily news program. Sheremet rarely altered his routine. And Prytula rarely missed his 8 a.m. show.

But on this day, with the sun shining in, Prytula, who is the owner, co-founder, and former editor-in-chief of the influential news website Ukrainska Pravda, dozed off. When a powerful explosion rocked her bed, scattered the birds outside her window, and set car alarms screaming on the street at 7:45 a.m., she said she almost didn’t get up.

“I came to the balcony to see what had exploded and where, but there was no sign of smoke and I couldn’t understand where it was coming from,” Prytula said. She told me she was crawling back into bed when “a thought came to my mind that we could report on what happened. And if Pavel was driving nearby, he would definitely stop and take a photo, or tweet it to talk about it later on the radio.”

Police cordon off the streets in Kiev where explosives destroyed the car Pavel Sheremet was driving on July 20, 2016. (AFP/Sergei Supinksy)

Prytula said when she called his phone she received a message saying the number couldn’t be reached, so she figured he had forgotten to turn it on. She called five more times. Still no answer. She thought it was odd, but figured he was probably already in the studio preparing for his program.

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