Time for Justice says IFJ as Former Ukraine President Faces Media Murder Probe

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 to account."

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."

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The IFJ represents more than 600.000 members in 125 countries