Prime Minister Yanukovich
Members of the Parliament of Ukraine
Fax: + 380 44 255 20 58 / + 380 44 253 06 53 / + 380 44 255 30 08 / + 380 44 286 83 34
14 September 2006
Dear Prime Minister Yanukovich and Members of the Ukrainian Parliament,
On the occasion of the parliamentary debate into the murder of Georgy Gongadze, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is writing to demand a widening of the investigation into his death.
Saturday, September 16, marks the sixth anniversary of Mr. Gongadze’s murder and the IFJ believes that not everyone responsible for his death has been brought to trial. The prosecution of three police officers who were witnesses to his murder is a good start, but the people who ordered his shooting need to be held responsible as well.
The murder of Mr. Gongadze was a blow to press freedom in Ukraine and the failure to make a full investigation into his death is a setback for the country’s human rights record.
According to an investigation that the IFJ was part of last year, those responsible for his killing – specifically powerful figures who instigated and authorised the murder – are “getting away,” while a handful of individuals who took part in the immediate killing are taking full responsibility.
The Ukrainian general prosecutor has failed to examine the links between the case and the operation of death squads within the interior ministry. He has also failed to get tapes made in former president Kuchma’s office, in which Kuchma and other government ministers allegedly discuss harming Gongadze, to be accepted as evidence in court.
The failure of the Ukrainian prosecutors to make a full investigation into this murder has contributed to an atmosphere where the significant improvements in media freedom established in the immediate aftermath of the 2004 Presidential election are being eroded.
Recent cases of attacks on journalists and the banning of press coverage threaten to erase nearly all of the press freedom advances that were won in the last two years.
We are calling on you to make a commitment to press freedom and to bring all of those people responsible for Mr. Gongadze’s murder to justice.
International Federation of Journalists