A Month Ago, Zaborona Published an Investigation Into the Murder of Pavel Sheremet. Here’s How the Defendants and Departments Reacted to It

Yuliana Skibitska

On September 22nd and 23rd, Zaborona published a large investigation about the murder of our colleague Pavel Sheremet (here is the first, and here is the second part). We found out that there is another twist in the case, which leads to Oleksandr Klymenko, who was the former Minister of Revenue and Duties during Viktor Yanukovych’s time in power, and to Anatoly Matios, who at the time of Pavel’s murder was the military prosecutor. However, the police did not pursue this version of the story. A month after the publication of the investigation, we tell you how the defendants and government departments reacted (spoiler alert: ambiguously).

How government departments reacted

After Zaborona published the first part of the investigation about Maksim Zotov and how he is connected with Oleksandr Klymenko, the speaker of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Artem Shevchenko contacted us. He said the police had checked Matsyuk’s testimony – notably, her husband told investigators that Matsyuk and Zotov had a “long-standing conflict.” Therefore, the investigators did not pursue this version further. Apart from Artem Shevchenko, the news outlet Babel also referred to an anonymous “source familiar with the course of the investigation,” who said that Matsyuk’s version was checked by “many operatives” and was ultimately not verified. However, Zaborona has neither the interrogation of Mykola Matsyuk, nor the Zotov case materials at its disposal.

Photo: Заборона

We sent inquiries to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor General’s Office asking them to say whether the investigators had interrogated Maksim Zotov and Anatoly Matios, and whether they had checked Matsyuk’s version of the story. We asked the GPU to inform us whether the materials of the Zaborona investigation would be included in the case. This is especially important, because soon a criminal case should begin, in essence, against the current suspects in the murder of Sheremet – Andriy Antonenko, Yana Dugar and Yulia Kuzmenko. However, a month later (this is the maximum legal deadline for responding to such inquiries), we received no answers. The Ministry of Interior says that they are “preparing an answer,” and the GPU said in a telephone conversation that Zaborona is NGO, not a registered media, and therefore they aren’t obligated to respond to our request. Although this is not the case – departments are obliged to respond to journalistic inquiries regardless of their registration as media.

How Zotov reacted

While preparing the investigation, Zaborona journalists repeatedly tried to contact all the persons mentionedl. They declined to comment. After the release of the investigation, the newspaper Vesti, owned by Klymenko, contacted Zotov. He stated that he lived in Kyiv, and not in the Moscow region, and as evidence presented a selfie with a fresh issue of Vesti against the background of the Gulliver business center. There is not only the Vesti office, but the office of the Epel business clan, with which Zotov is associated (he is married to Olga Epel). However, Zotov’s claim that he lives in Kyiv raises doubts, since he is registered as an individual entrepreneur in Krasnogorsk. By law, such registration is possible only at the registration address.

Photo: vesti.ua

Zotov told reporters that he has not been in Mariupol for about 30 years. We believe that this is not so: in 2015-16, there was a forced re-registration of business and accounts in the territory controlled by Ukraine. A number of companies and Zotov’s individual entrepreneurship ID were re-registered in May-June 2016 in Mariupol.

Zotov stated that he had a conflict with Matsyuk allegedly 10 years ago, and after the publication of Zaborona, he filed a statement with the police about her giving false testimony. In addition, Zotov said that Anatoly Matios and his subordinates pressured him, demanding to give “slanderous testimony against Klymenko.” A source from Zotov’s inner circle also told Zaborona that due to threats from the military prosecutor, he had been forced to leave for a while to Israel, where his wife’s father, Mikhail Epel lives, and allegedly returned only after Zelensky’s victory in the presidential election. Neither Zotov nor his lawyers responded to Zaborona’s request to give an interview to our publication.

We asked the police whether the department had received a statement from Zotov and whether it would investigate Maryna Matsyuk’s alleged perjury, but did not receive an answer.

How Klymenko reacted

Soon after the release of the investigation, Zaborona was contacted by lawyer Yuri Zakharchenko, who represents the interests of Oleksandr Klymenko. He demanded to remove all references to Klymenko from the investigation, because they “disgrace the honor and dignity” of the fugitive oligarch.

The same claims came to other media, which published the material of Zaborona or gave news about it. Zaborona invited Klymenko to give an interview and state his position, but he did not respond.

How Matios reacted

After the release of the investigation, we once again contacted Anatoly Matios, asking him for comment. Matios asked our journalist Samuel Proskuryakov if one of the persons involved in the investigation, Vladislav Drager, was his brother. He further wrote: “Is your name Samuel or Samvel? This is very important for another group of journalists, Justice for Black Cash Matter. Ask them for my opinion!”. Apparently, this is a reference to the slogan Black Lives Matter.

Did you like the article?

Support Zaborona on Patreon so we can produce even more interesting stories