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RSF CALLS FOR MORE FORENSIC TESTS ON JOURNALIST'S DEATH... On 12 February, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called on the Ukrainian government to conduct new forensic tests into the death of journalist Mykhaylo Kolomiyets. Kolomiyets, the director of the Ukrayinski novyny news agency, was reported missing on 25 October, and his body was discovered hanging from a tree in a forest near the Belarusian town of Maladzechna several weeks later. Although the death was ruled a suicide, RSF asserts that the autopsy did not rule out the possibility that Kolomiyets was murdered. French pathologist Jean Rivolet participated in an autopsy in Ukraine from 11 to 13 December that apparently confirmed the police explanation of suicide, since no traces of violence were found on Kolomiyets's body. (Reporters Without Borders, 12 February)
...AS DEBATE CONTINUES OVER THE CAUSE OF DEATH. According to police, Kolomiyets left Ukraine for Belarus on 22 October -- three days before he was officially reported missing -- with the intention of killing himself, RSF reported. In early February, an inquiry in Belarus organized by the Ukrainian League of Economic Journalists and the Institute of Mass Information found no evidence of an attack on Kolomiyets but could not rule out the possibility that he might have been subjected to psychological pressure to commit suicide. Kolomiyets's colleagues and friends, however, continue to argue that his death might have been connected with his work, claiming that Ukrayinski novyny's political and business coverage might have angered someone. Kolomiyets founded the agency in 1997 and owned half of the company, with the other half held by the Agency for Humanitarian Technologies, headed by Valeriy Khoroshkovskyy, one of President Leonid Kuchma's close associates. On 16 December, the journalist's widow, Lyudmula Kolomiyets, said publicly that her husband had been threatened and harassed in the months preceding his death. (Reporters Without Borders, 12 February)