As the sixth anniversary of the murder of Ukrainian journalist Georgy Gongadze approaches, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), has become alarmed by a sudden increase in attacks on press freedom and on individual journalists throughout the country.
In August, a series of journalists were kidnapped, beaten and denied access to press conferences, while the authorities issued new restrictions on the work of journalists.
The IFJ has also written to the Ukraine politicians calling on them to press for the prosecution of those responsible for ordering Gongadze’s murder during the parliamentary debate into his death on Friday 15th September.
Three police officers are currently on trial for the murder. Despite this progress, the leading police officer believed to have actually shot and killed Gongadze, Oleksiy Pukach, remains on the run. Meanwhile, nobody has been prosecuted for ordering his assassination.
Gongadze was shot and beheaded in woods outside of Kiev on 16th September, 2000. Evidence provided by the so called ‘Melnichenko tapes’ suggested that his assassination was ordered by Ukraine’s president at that time, Leonid Kuchma.
“The IFJ is appalled that six years later the people who ordered Gongadze’s assassination remain free,” said Oliver Money-Kyrle, IFJ Programmes Director. “The recent rise in attacks against journalists is a result of that failure and will only serve to encourage further acts of intimidation, assault and murder.”
On 9th August, in an act disturbingly reminiscent of Gongadze’s own abduction and murder, correspondents of Nashe Radio Station were kidnapped in broad daylight in the centre of Kyiv and taken to the forests where they were assaulted. The next day Fiodor Saliy, Director of the Crimean Broadcasting Company of Foros, was assaulted.
On August 10, a Channel Five TV crew were denied access to a press conference by the newly appointed Prime Minister, Viktor Yanukovich. The following day the Kyiv City State Administration informed the media that new restrictions would limit journalists’ access to certain places and events.
Meanwhile, Oleg Kalashnikov, Member of Parliament for the newly governing Party of the Regions, has not been punished for brutally assaulting an STB TV news crew.
For a copy of the IFJ’s letter Ukrainian Prime Minister Yanukovich and Members of the Ukranian Parliament, click here.
For the 2005 report on Gongadz's murder, click here.
For more information, contact the IFJ at +32 2 235 2207
The IFJ has more than 500,000 members in over 100 countries worldwide