On 16 September, journalists in
Ukraine and around the world will mark the tenth anniversary of the murder of
our colleague Gyorgy Gongadze. On this occasion we once again call on the
Ukrainian authorities seriously to investigate those who ordered the killing.
We are deeply concerned by recent
reports that the late general Yuriy Kravchenko is to be named as the person
responsible for ordering Gongadze's murder and particularly the failure to
identify any motivation that allegedly provoked Kravchenko to order his
killing. Given the extent to which the investigation has been deliberately
dragged out, obstructed and ridden with serious errors, this latest move looks
like an attempt to conceal the identities of the real instigators and to
protect them from punishment by intentionally switching the guilt to the late
We appeal to Ukrainian society and the
international community to demand that the investigation continues until all
those responsible for ordering Gognadze's murder have been
This negligence follows a persistent pattern.
Even before the arrest of Pukach, the man charged with his murder, questions
about the instigators of the crime that clearly arise from information long available
publicly have not been investigated. Specific issues raised in that regard - by
the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, by ourselves, and by our
Ukrainian colleagues - have been almost completely ignored.
Most obviously, major Mykola
Melnychenko, who tape-recorded the incriminating conversations about Gongadze
in Kuchma's office, has never been formally questioned by the investigators.
This is necessary in order for the recordings to be used as evidence. Within a
few weeks, he will be protected by the statute of limitations and this chance
will be lost.
The Gongadze case has come to
epitomise the impunity with which politicians and other powerful people
conspire to silence journalists. It is common knowledge that former president
Leonid Kuchma, current parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn and others,
discussed harming Gongadze, and that a few days later he was dead. But, ten
years on, none of the participants in those conversations, nor any of those who
organised the killing, have been held to account in court.
The lamentable failure of justice in
the Gongadze case has certainly encouraged other politicians and officials who
have threatened, bullied and intimidated journalists. The chances of being punished
for terrorising journalists remain too low.
Over the last ten years, we have
warned repeatedly that the refusal to pursue the Gongadze case vigorously, and
the way that senior politicians of various parties have obstructed and
sabotaged the investigation, would encourage other officials to act with
impunity against journalists.
The importance of bringing to justice
those who instigated Gongadze's killing has been tragically underlined by the
disappearance, and feared murder, of Vasily Klimentyev, the investigative
reporter and editor, in Kharkiv on 11 August.
Internal affairs minister, Vasily
Mogilev, has stated that current and former law enforcement officers are under
suspicion in the Klimentyev case. The impunity with which those who instigated
Gongadze's killing can only have encouraged them.
On this anniversary of Gyorgy's tragic
death, we once again call:
-- On the Ukrainian authorities to
review and renew the investigation into those who ordered the killing, and to
ensure that they are brought to justice;
-- On the Ukrainian authorities to
instigate criminal proceedings against senior officials who have deliberately
obstructed the investigation;
-- On governments and civil society
across Europe to continue the fight against impunity for those in positions of
power who sanction and organise violence against journalists.
Aidan White, General Secretary,
International Federation of Journalists
Myroslava Gongadze, The Gongadze
Jeremy Dear, National Union of
Journalists of UK and Ireland
Alla Lazareva, Institute of Mass