IFJ Condemns Ukraine Over Failure to Act As Mystery Deepens Over Missing Journalist

THE International Federation of Journalists, the world's largest journalists' organisation, today expressed its concern over the failure of Ukrainian officials to resolve the disappearance of Mykhailo Kolomiets, founder and director of Ukrainsky Novyny, an agency specializing in economic news. The journalist has not been seen since 21 October.

In a statement Ukrainsky Novyny reporters expressed their concerned over the fate of Kolomiets. They fear his disappearance is linked with the agency's controversial policy of providing independent information.

The IFJ and its UK affiliate, National Union of Journalists, have been campaigning the past two years for a full inquiry into the unsolved murder of Gyorgy Gongadze, a reporter critical of the government, whose headless corpse was found in November 2000. The opposition in Ukraine has linked President Kuchma to the murder of Gongadze; however, Kuchma denies the charges.

"Journalists are rightly worried that Kolomiets disappearance has an echo of the Gongadze case," said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ, "They fear that journalists who are providing leadership in the struggle for critical and independent reporting may be targeted with impunity. For that reason the authorities must act urgently to reveal the whereabouts of Kolomiets and to ease the fears of his colleagues and family."

The opposition to President Kuchma organized some of the country's largest post-Soviet protests in September to mark the second anniversary of Gongadze's disappearance.