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."

 For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 00
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 members in 125 countries