Joint Statement on Tenth Anniversary of Gyorgy Gongadze's Death

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

Kravchenko.   

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

identified.  

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

Foundation

Jeremy Dear, National Union of

Journalists of UK and Ireland

Alla Lazareva, Institute of Mass

Information

 

Reports on the Gongadze Inquiry are available here