16 September 2015
- The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) marks today 15 years since the Georgian-born Ukrainian investigative journalist Georgiy Ruslanovich Gongadze (Heorhiy Ruslanovych Gongadze) disappeared. On 3 November 2000 his body was found in a forest in the near of Kiev; Ukraine.
Who ordered the murder remains unsolved. Three former officials of the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior Affairs were arrested 2005, and one more in 2009 with accusation of killing Gongadze. A court in Ukraine sentenced Valeriy Kostenko to 12-year, Mykola Protasov to 13 years and Oleksandr Popovych to 12 years. Olexsiy Pukach was sentenced 2013 to life in prison. Former Minister Yuriy Kravchenko was killed on 4 March 2005, just hours before he was to begin providing testimony as a witness in the Gongadze -case. In November 2000, an opposition politician publicised secret tape recordings which he claimed implicated former President Leonid Kuchma in Gongadze's murder. Doubt was cast on the tapes' authenticity. Kuchma denies any involvement, and threatened a libel suit, against the opposition politician. Gongadze's family got a political asylum and lived there since the year 2001.
Ukraine is the most dangerous country in Europe for journalists: Seven journalists were killed in 2014 and at least four in 2015 till today, additional SEEMO has documents of many cases of attacks and threats against journalists in Ukraine.
"The organisers behind this crime and killing of Gongadze. must be brought to justice. Also all other cases of killing journalists or attacks on journalist in Ukraine must be investigated, independent if this cases happen on the territory controlled by the government in Kiev or on the territory controlled by the pro-Russian groups", Oliver Vujovic SEEMO Secretary General said.