IFJ Raises Alert Over Death of Journalist in Ukraine

The International Federation of Journalists today called on the Ukrainian government to explore the reasons behind the “suspicious” death of newspaper and television editor Vladimir Efremov, and to establish whether or not it was connected to his professional work.

On 14 July, Efremov was killed in a car accident, when his car collided with a MAZ truck near Verkhnyodniprovsk town. Efremov was editor-in-chief of the Sobor Dnipropetrovsk newspaper and he also headed the 11th regional TV-channel, Sobor agency, as well as the Dnipropetrovsk newspaper.

On 13 October 2001, in the government newspaper "Golos Ukrainy", Efremov had said he feared he would be killed because of his journalistic activities, probably in a staged road accident. Subsequently, Efremov had agreed to testify at former Prime Minister, Pavlo Lazarenko's 18 August trial in the United States, on charges of "embezzlement of public funds".

Maryna Dovhopola, Lazarenko’s lawyer confirmed today that the American lawyers of Lazarenko had met with Efremov before the tragic car accident. “Conditions for press freedom and journalists’ safety have deteriorated rapidly in the Ukraine”, said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. Journalists must be able to criticize all levels of society freely, a basic right that has not been respected by Ukrainian authorities in recent years.

Volodymyr Reshetilov, Deputy Prosecutor of Dnipropetrovsk region has said that the criminal investigation group has started its inquest and also added that Serhiy Zhydkov, chief of local Department on Traffic Accidents is in charge.

The IFJ is supporting journalists in the Ukraine to create better social and professional condition. “There must be clear and verifiable explanations as to the death of our colleague. If not we can only fear the worst,” said White.

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The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries