Journalist organizations call for Klymentyev case to be passed to the Prosecutor General
The journalist organization Stop Censorship!, the Kyiv Independent Media Trade Union, Mediafront, the Committee to Protect Ukrainian Journalists, as well as Reporters without Borders, have addressed a joint letter to President Yanukovych and the Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka, asking that the latter’s office take over the investigation into the disappearance of Chief Editor of the Kharkiv newspaper Novy Styl [New Style] Vasyl Klymentyev in August 2010
In their letter they stress that 6 months have passed with very little progress, and with no suspect being established. It would seem, they note, that there are a number of unclear aspects to the investigation, although the local police are continuing to work on the version that Klymentyev was murdered in connection with his journalist activities.
The letter outlines some of the suppositions, already reported, regarding a possible link between Klymentyev’s disappearance and investigations he was carrying out about abuse of position by local officials, including the head of the Tax Inspectorate for the Kharkiv region.
They believe that the lack of progress is directly linked with the fact that it is being run by the Ministry of the Interior. “Some incidents during the investigation have forced us to doubt that the local police are unbiased in this case. We were firstly surprised that the local Prosecutor immediately defined the case as murder when Klymentyev’s relatives had merely reported his disappearance.
Secondly, the local police carried out unlawful searches of the home of Klymentyev and of his lawyer. At the same time, Klymentyev’s partner, Valentina Udovenko, received threats from the local authorities. And finally, the police office who accompanied Klymentyev to the reservoir (to photograph the property of the above-mentioned tax official the day before Klymentyev disappeared – translator), the main witness to have, in all probability, seen him alive, has also disappeared, and has been wanted for questioning since last September. It would appear that the Kharkiv police who are carrying out the investigation are trying to slow it down, if not obstruct it, and that they cannot carry out an independent and impartial investigation”.
The authors of the appeal therefore call for it to be handed to the Prosecutor General and express the hope that those responsible for violence against journalists will be punished. They stress that this would be a significant step in fighting impunity among those who violate journalists’ rights in Ukraine, and warn that the end of another case like that of the murder of Georgy Gongadze would do irreparable damage to Ukraine’s reputation in the world and among international organizations.