Veranika Charkasava Murderers Haven't Been Found Yet

10.12.2011 Source: Press Service of Belarusian Association of Journalists Story: Unsolved cases

On October 20, 2011 it’s been seven years since Veranika Charkasava, Belarusian independent journalist, was stabbed to death in her Minsk apartment.

According to the information given by Siarhey Balashau, assistant attorney, the investigation has been suspended "due to the absence of indictable suspects."

“The operative work continues, the results of searches are examined at operational meetings.” He wouldn’t tell when was the last time that such a meeting was held, saying it’s a secret of investigation. “There is no real evidence to suspect anyone,” he said to BAJ press service.

At noon on Thursday Veranika’s relatives, friends and colleagues gather at the BAJ office at Kamsamolskaya 7 to proceed further to the churchyard in Kalodzishchy, where Veranika was buried.

About Veranika Charkasava

Veranika Charkasava was born on January 12, 1959 in Minsk. She worked for various independent opposition newspapers - "BDG" (in the 90's), "Belorusskaya Gazeta" (1995-2003) and, finally, in 2003-2004 for "Salidarnaść" (Solidarity) newspaper.

She specialized in investigative journalism and wrote about social issues, including articles about religious sects and gypsy communities in Belarus, but also she published several articles about illegal arms trade between Aliaxandr Lukashenka's Belarus and Saddam Hussein's Iraq. She visited Iraq in 2002 as member of group of journalists invited to the country by some Belarus businessman who had partners in Iraq.

The Case

The murderer, who inflicted over 20 stab wounds, has never been found. The killer did not take any money or valuables but left a trace of blood in her address book.

Veranika's 15 year-old son Anton Filimonau and her chronically ill stepfather Uladzimir Mialeshka were named two main suspects in the investigation of "domestic violence". The journalist's family, especially Anton, became subject of a systematic and cruel harassment. The teenager endured months of hostile interrogations, was destroyed morally and, as a result, suffered a nervous breakdown. His father had to take him out of the country to avoid a "psychiatric examination" at a closed facility ordered by the prosecutors. Six months after the murder, Anton and Uladzimir's suspect status was lifted.  The official investigation was suspended in December 2005, reopened in February 2006, and suspended again on March 14, 2006, citing “lack of indictable suspects”. All further comments of the investigative bodies repeated the same reason for the case suspension. In October 17, 2006 the chief investigator of the Minsk Prosecutor's Office, Siarhey Ivanou, said in an interview with the newspaper "Zvyazda" ("Star") that “even though the investigation into Veronika Cherkasova's murder had been suspended due to inability to identify the perpetrators, the operative work on the case continues. In my opinion, this case isn't hopeless, and its investigation can be brought to a logical end," he said. Ivanou alleged that the murder was not a carefully planned or premeditated one, because "the killer used a knife that he found in his victim's kitchen. Had the perpetrator originally intended to murder Cherkasova, he would have brought his own weapon instead of relying on an accidentally found knife."

In the meanwhile on April 11, 2006 Anton was convicted and sentenced to 2,5 years of prison for money forgery. Because of his age, the jail term is deferred by 2 years. His "accomplices" received similar convictions with 2 years in jail. Remarkably, Anton's neighbor, whose computer equipment was used for the alleged forgery, appeared in the case only as a witness. Anton's family described him as an instigator and, possibly, a provocateur in what might have been a set-up.

On October 8, 2008 Uladzimir Mialeshka was summoned for questioning, and Veranika’s parents’ house was searched. The investigators wanted to know Anton Filimonau’s whereabouts. Diane Charkasava, her mother, said that Anton had left the country. “It was obvious that the police treated Anton as the “main suspect”. For four years, instead of looking for the real murderer, they have been preparing grounds for arresting Anton. We lost the daughter, and then the grandson. In such situation it’s impossible to stay in contact normally. All interrogations and searches look like mere mockery. We can’t give any new information,” she added.

An article in Belorusskaya Delovaya Gazeta The Fear As a Plausible Motive, Or Who Murdered Veranika Charkasava? by Siarhey Satsuk presents an independent analysis of available evidence. It states that all evidence indicate that this was a professional assassination.   It demonstrates that the journalist was killed immediately and her body was mutilated and blood was sprayed around afterwards as if to maximize the horrific appearance of the crime scene.  It lists evidence the prosecutors chose to ignore in their attempt to implicate family members: the electrical fuse box outside the apartment was tempered with, the expertise of blood stain patterns on the walls showed that it was sprayed after Veranika had already been dead, etc. The article also reveals that several months before her death Veranika resumed contacts with an Infobank executive whom she met two years earlier during her trip to Iraq in the midst of a scandal around the alleged weapon sales by Belarus to Saddam Hussein. It is known that Veranika was gathering information on Infobank which handled Belarus-Iraq finances.

In April 2006 the website appeared devoted to Veranika’s case.

In October 2006 a large public campaign was launched when more than 50.000 journalists from all over the world united to encourage the police to do their best to investigate the case and achieve justice. Still, the case is being suspended.

On September 8, 2005 the book Red on White was presented, a collection of Veranika Charkasava’s best articles and essays published in various Russian and Belarusian magazines and newspapers in 1992-2004.

Veronica Cherkasova: Murder Mystery