Civic organizations call on Yushchenko to withdraw his recent award to Mykhailo Potebenko


14 Ukrainian and international organizations have addressed an open letter to President Yushchenko calling on him to withdraw the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise to adviser to the Prosecutor General’s Office Mykhailo Potebenko.

The letter is signed by the International Federation of Journalists, the Institute for Mass Information, the Gongadze Foundation, the publication founded by Georgy Gongadze – Ukrainska Pravda, the National Union of Journalists (UK and Ireland), the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group and a number of prominent Ukrainian civic organizations.

The letter states that “it was specifically to Mr Potebenko as Prosecutor General that Georgy Gongadze turned for protection when he realized that he was being followed. At that time the Prosecutor General failed to respond and take measures to protect the journalist’s life, this enabling Gongadze’s later abduction and murder by law enforcement officers.

Since it is the direct duty of the Prosecutor General’s office to protect the right to life of Ukrainian citizens and not to deprive them of this right, Prosecutor Potebenko bears some of the blame for the tragic death of Georgy”.

The letter points out that “the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights had been violated, and thus recognized that Ukrainian State and police officials had deliberately taken the journalist’s life by subjecting him to torture. The lack of an adequate investigation by the Prosecutor General’s office during the first two years, these being under Mr Potebenko’s leadership, was recognized by the Court as a breach of the rights of his family and relatives”.

The organizations demand an investigation into the tampering with the case and the withdrawal of the honour to Mr Potebenko since “such an award given the sham investigation into the Gongadze murder is an insult to those people who really are attempting to build democracy and a law-based state in Ukraine and inflicts pain on Georgy’s family and relatives. Such unwarranted awards, furthermore, damage Ukraine’s reputation in democratic countries and hamper its prospects for European integration.”


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