IFJ Condemns Ukraine Government “Sabotage” in Investigation of Journalist Gongadze’s Murder

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today launched in Kiev its third report on the investigation of the murder of Ukrainian journalist Georgy Gongadze. The report was launched in advance of the seventh anniversary of his death on September 16th.

The case of Gongadze, the founding editor of the Ukrainska Pravda web site, concerns above all the impunity of those in power who sanction violence and intimidation against journalists

“Seven years after the assassination of Gongadze, this new report provides once again ample evidence that, despite prima facie evidence that senior politicians colluded in harming him, the Ukranian government continues to frustrate and sabotage investigations of the murder,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha at the launch.

The report is called “Official Obstruction is Rewarded” – a reference to president Yushchenko’s award earlier this year to former general prosecutor Mikhail Potebenko of the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise. It was Potebenko to whom Gongadze appealed for help when he realised he was being followed, and Potebenko who ignored him.

The report is being published by the International Federation of Journalists, the Institute of Mass Information of Ukraine, the National Union of Journalists of the UK and Ireland and the Gongadze Foundation, who have monitored the case jointly.

“That the Ukrainian president has presented Potebenko with a state honour epitomises the official indifference, and even opposition, to dealing with issues raised by the case,” Boumelha said. “If there was ever a political will to find the instigators of Gongadze’s murder, it appears that it has now been overtaken by the efforts of members of the political establishment to protect each other, and each other’s reputations. It is a scandalous cover-up that casts a shadow over democracy in the Ukraine.”

The IFJ says that continued political interference and pressure have played a major part in these substantial setbacks. It is now quite clear that the opportunity provided by the political changes in the Ukraine following the “Orange revolution” has been missed.

The report made detailed recommendations addressed to the president and government of Ukraine, to the general prosecutor and to the Council of Europe. Journalists’ organisations are asked to continue the pressure on the Ukrainian government by sending protest to coincide with the anniversary of the murder to President Victor Yushchenko at press@stpu.gov.ua or fax him on 38044255-72-76.

For full copy of the report, click here.

For more information contact the IFJ at 32 2 235 2207

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 114 countries worldwide