KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's interior minister says he believes a journalist who was reported missing earlier this month is likely dead, and that security forces are suspected of involvement in the disappearance.
Vasily Klymentyev, the editor of a weekly newspaper in the eastern city of Kharkiv, has been missing for two weeks. His deputy said Klymentyev was threatened after refusing to take money to halt the publication of a story about a regional prosecutor accused of accepting bribes to close criminal cases.
"We suspect that law enforcement officials, both former and current, might be involved in the case," Interior Minister Anatoly Mogiliov said in televised comments.
Law enforcement officials include the police, Interior Ministry troops, special security forces and prosecutors, among other agencies.
International rights groups have expressed concern about a deterioration of media freedom in Ukraine since Moscow-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych was elected to office in February.
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe urged a "swift and transparent" investigation. Mogiliov, however, warned "the case will be quite difficult and take a long time."
Klymentyev's case is being followed with anxiety in Ukraine, where memories are still fresh of the unsolved murder of another journalist in 2000.
Like Klymentyev, Heorhiy Gongadze wrote about corruption. Gongadze, whose investigations implicated then-President Leonid Kuchma, had been missing for months before his decapitated body was found outside Kyiv.
The killing sparked months of protests against Kuchma, who was accused of involvement in his death.