The International Federation of Journalists
(IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) today welcomed a "long
overdue" decision to investigate former Ukrainian leader Leonid Kuchma over the
murder of journalist Georgy Gongadze who was killed in 2000.
The investigation follows the arrest two years
ago of former chief of the interior ministry's surveillance
department Olexiy Pukach who admitted to
killing the journalist and claimed other senior politicians were involved. This
move follows a decade-long campaign by the IFJ/EFJ and its affiliates,
Gongadze's family and press freedom campaigners.
"This decision is long overdue but it is welcome
recognition that it is time for justice," said Aidan White, IFJ/EFJ General
Secretary. "We have always said that evidence implicating the former President
and his government had to be taken seriously. Now there is a real opportunity
to confront impunity in Ukraine and hold the masterminds of Gongadze's murder
Reports say that prosecutors in Ukraine summoned
former leader Kuchma for questioning on Monday over allegations of "abuse of
power and giving illegal orders to the interior ministry which led to the killing
of the reporter."
Georgy Gongadze, publisher of the Internet journal Ukrainska Prawda, was
kidnapped on 16 September 2000 and his body found later beheaded. The
journalist had been investigating corruption at senior levels of the Ukrainian
government led by former President Leonid Kuchma. Revelations of secret tape
recordings of Kuchma ordering Interior Ministry' services to kill Gongadze
sparked accusations of his involvement.
The IFJ led a global campaign for justice to
Gongadze and last year marked ten years of lack of progress in solving the
murder, accusing the Ukrainian authorities of diversionary tactics to shield powerful individuals who are behind his
murder from accountability.
"The news of investigation of Mr. Kuchma is a vindication of our
determination to secure justice for Gongadze", added White. "We remain focused
on achieving this goal."
For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 00
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 members in 125 countries