The open letter to the President of Ukraine and to the Supreme Rada about the disappearance of the journalist Georgiy Gongadze and about the existing situation
Respected Mr. President!
Respected peoples deputies!
On 16 September 2000 Georgiy Gongadze, a well-known journalist with the opposition attitude to the powers, the head of the project of the Ukrainian Internet newspaper ‘Ukrainska Pravda, disappeared under unknown circumstances.
In spite of the fact that law-enforcing bodies do much in order to learn the circumstances and find the journalist, Georgiys destiny still remains unknown.
The situation with the disappearance of Georgiy makes us, journalists, feel serious unrest and worry. We are indignant that during the independence of Ukraine no resonant crime against journalists was disclosed to the end. Let us recollect the destiny of Vadim Boyko, Petr Shevchenko, Boris Derevyanko.
Every time, in answer to any questions about these crimes, we get answers: the investigation is continued, the situation is under control, the crime will be disclosed soon. The absence of results of the investigation of loud crimes concerning journalists enables us to affirm that nobody except journalists is interested in the positive results. The most unsafe feature of this situation is that the main version in these cases was professional activities of politically involved journalists.
Everybody of us feels that to execute ones professional duties becomes more and more difficult – it is difficult to objectively inform the society about the events that happen in Ukraine. By the way, experts of respected international organizations more than once remarked the abuses of the freedom of speech in Ukraine. Almost every one of us, political journalists, happened to encounter the pressure.
Georgiy Gongadze many times encountered the restrain of the access to information, experienced directed pressure and even threats. It is confirmed by his many appeals to law-enforcing bodies, which until now have remained without response.
We point out that the pressure upon Georgiy has increased after publishing by him a number of acute materials and his speeches, in which he criticized certain actions of high state officers and so-called oligarchs.
That is why the majority of journalists, politicians and public figures thinks the most probable the political version of Georgiy Gongadzes disappearance.
It is awful that on the tenth year of building a democratic state the political reasons are considered to be version number one.
A threatening tendency that the crime would not be disclosed makes us to demand personal responsibility of the Ministry of Interior Yu. F. Kravchenko and the General Prosecutor of Ukraine M. O. Potebenko for the disclosure of the circumstances of Georgiy Gongadzes disappearance, as well as other crimes committed against journalists.
We demand creating normal conditions for accomplishing our professional duties. We, journalists, who signed this letter, comprehend that what happened with Georgiy yesterday may happen with everybody of us tomorrow.
We believe that Georgiy is alive and he will be found.
Kyiv, 19 September 2000
More than 80 outstanding Ukrainian journalists signed this letter. The Kharkov Group for human rights protection supports this appeal and the action ‘Find the journalist. We print the photo of Georgiy Gongadze from the site of ‘Ukrainska Pravda and hope that he will be found safe and sound.