KYIV, UKRAINE - Ukrainian police have detained several people suspected of involvement in the slaying of journalist Pavel Sheremet, who died in a car bomb blast in 2016, the country's leadership announced Thursday.
"Probable killers were detained today," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said during a press briefing in Kyiv with the interior minister and general prosecutor.
"But there is another question: Who ordered it?" he added.
Two women and three men, all former veterans of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, are accused of murdering Sheremet with the aim of "destabilizing the situation in the country by killing a famous person," National Police chief Yevgen Koval said.
Sheremet, 44, an acclaimed Belarus-born journalist with pro-European views, died in July 2016 when his car exploded while he was driving to work in central Kyiv.
The investigation had considered four possible scenarios for the killing: a personal conflict, a killing by mistake, Sheremet's professional activities and the destabilization theory.
The two main suspects in the planting of the explosive device under Sheremet's car are an ex-serviceman in the Ukrainian army, Andriy Antonenko, and a woman named Yuliya Kuzmenko.
Footage from the crime scene that was released after the killing showed a man and a woman acting suspiciously near the car.
Antonenko denied involvement in the incident and on Thursday managed to write on Facebook when police came to arrest him.
"I am being accused of killing Sheremet. Right now (...) Help!" he wrote.
The slaying has been a source of criticism of Ukraine's interior ministry and security services, which made no progress on the case for years and classified parts of it, which invited suspicions of government involvement.
Zelensky on Thursday said the Sheremet investigation was a "priority."
"Unfortunately, in our country there are many more cases like this," he said.
Sheremet was a columnist for Ukrainska Pravda, a popular online newspaper whose founder, Georgiy Gongadze, was beheaded 16 years ago after he probed alleged crimes of Ukrainian leaders.
Sheremet was respected for criticizing the Kremlin while pointing out Ukraine's mistakes. His death sent shock waves across Ukraine and is only one in a string of unresolved killings and assaults on members of the media in the country.
On Thursday, Kyiv's ex-boxer mayor, Vitaliy Klytchko, said a park in the Ukrainian capital would be named after Pavel Sheremet, after a decision by the city council.
Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, is 102nd out of 180 countries in a world ranking of media freedom by Reporters Without Borders.