Ukrainian Journalist Mysteriously Dies - 21 November, 2002 - News

The journalist’s body was found in Belarus

The mother of the director of the news agency Ukrainian News identified the dead body of her son, Mikhail Kolomits. Kolomeits’s body was found in the republic of Belarus. The mother recovered her son’s body and left for Ukraine, accompanied by the police.

Ukrainian journalist Mikhail Kolomeits was found hanged in a forest of the Belarus republic on October 30th, whereas he disappeared on October 21st. The police had doubts if it was really the Ukrainian journalist who was found in Belarus. All the doubts dissipated when the journalist’s mother identified the body. The law-enforcement bodies of Belarus conducted an additional autopsy on the body. The autopsy is supposed to determine the reason for Mikhail Kolomeits’s death.

The body was found on October 30th and then buried without identification on November 11th, 80 kilometers from the Belarussian capital Minsk. The first autopsy did not find any indications of a violent death (except for the fact that the journalist was hanged). The results of the new autopsy will be released in two weeks.

The Ukrainian police gave a version that the journalist committed suicide. However, this version does not seem to be true. Robert Mйnard, the general director of the organization Reporters Sans Frontieres (Reporters Without Borders) sent a letter to the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Svyatoslav Piskun. In the letter, Mr. Menard suggested cooperation. He also wrote that the organization was not drawn to believe the suicide version of Mikhail Kolomeits’s death. This version was announced by a spokesman for the Ukrainian Home Affairs Ministry, Vladimir Yevdokimov. Yevdokimov announced that the journalist’s death was not connected with his professional activities. Reporters Without Borders offered Ukraine’s Office of the Public Prosecutor the help of a French medical expert.

The personnel of the news agency Ukrainian News do not believe that the journalist committed. The journalists say that Ukrainian authorities should institute criminal proceedings for the investigation of Mikhail Kolomeits’s death. This was said by Yegor Sobolev, the editor-in-chief of the news agency. Sobolev pointed out that there should be an independent autopsy of the body conducted as well. The editor-in-chief thinks that the Belarussian authorities did not act in a correct way when they buried the body twelve days later. According to him, it was a very surprising thing to know, taking into consideration the fact that Belarus had been informed about the missing journalist.

Vladimir Granovsky, the co-owner of the news agency, stated that Mikhail Kolomeits’s vague actions did not prove the suicide version of his death at all. Granovsky was surprised that he had not been questioned by the police, in spite of the fact that his phone number was included on the list of Kolomeits’s latest phone calls. Vladimir Granovsky is certain that Reporters Without Borders must use all the experience they have to investigate the case. He added that a homicide version should have been considered simultaneously with the suicide version.

At the present moment, Mikhail Kolomeits’s case has too many things that are not clear. Mikhail Kolomeits’s disappearance and death made Ukrainian journalists recollect other mysterious deaths of their colleagues. The chairman of the Ukrainian Union of Journalists Igor Lubchenko addressed President Leonid Kuchma. Lubchenko asked the Ukrainian president to establish a special committee to investigate every little detail of the mysterious death. However, it is not very likely that the work of the committee will bring any results.

Andrey Lubensky PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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