war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

Will those who ordered Gongadze’s murder now be identified?

What impact on progress in the Gongadze case will the arrest of Oleksy Pukach have? What are the chances of uncovering who ordered the murder? Is this arrest now linked with somebody wishing to play the Gongadze card in the run up to the elections?

It was reported on Wednesday evening that former Police Colonel Oleksy Pukach who is accused of carrying out the murder of Georgy Gongadze, has named those who ordered the killing. This was stated at a press briefing by the Deputy Head of the SBU [Security Service] Vasyl Hrytsak. He also said that Pukach has admitted involvement in the murder of the journalist.

The Internet site “Telekritika” sought answers to the following questions:

  • What impact on progress in the case will the arrest of Oleksy Pukach have?
  • What are the chances of uncovering who ordered the murder?
  • Is the arrest of Pukach specifically now linked with somebody wishing to play the Gongadze card in the run up to the elections?

Valentina Telichenko, representative of Myroslava Gongadze in court

- This is an extremely important event for the investigation. It is not, unfortunately, a guarantee that all those who ordered and organized Georgy Gongadze’s murder will be identified. In theory Puckach knows exactly who gave him instructions what to do with regard to Georgy Gongadze and to Oleksy Podolshky. However the question is whether he will admit how it really was and how efficiently the investigation uses the fact that they have Pukach. There is after all a great likelihood that Puchach will lay it all on those who are dead and will say nothing of essence, will make up a story which was not actually the case, and will try to convince us that he isn’t guilty or something like that. It is also very important that there is a court verdict on those who carried out the deed not only in the Gongadze case, but also in the case of the unlawful detention and beating of journalist Podolsky. Therefore Pukach is also a key figure in that case.

I don’t exclude the presence of a political component however I don’t have any specific information about that and I therefore don’t want to imagine anything. There may be political impact but there doesn’t have to be.

Oleksy Podolshky, journalist abducted three months before the murder of Georgy Gongadze following the same scenario

- The essence of the entire Gongadze case is in telling the world who ordered this killing. However in fact everybody knows who those people are. And Pukach is a small link in a long chain. If he had any relation to this case it was only as one of the pawns. As if Gongadze and I were the only ones. Just in Donetsk on the order of the Prosecutor they burned the journalist Oleksandr Yakimenko in front of his home.

So they’ve found one Pukach. But who’s Pukach? As if there aren’t other sadists in the country? does he remember whom he suffocated? He won’t say anything new. Or he’ll name General Kravchenko as the one who ordered the killing. And Krachenko’s buried in the Baikove Cemetery, his marble face gazing on the gravestones of Vasyl Stus, Yury Lytvyn and Ivan Svitlychny. They didn’t even hide him with his own sort, but buried him among poets, artists and architects.

However there are tapes. They’re being held to use as blackmail, and they’re held not here, but abroad, and not even with our northern neighbours. That’s a long song, and I think therefore that nobody will now move the Gongadze case from dead end since it’s interesting in who is playing the song. If the case ends, certain levers of influence will be lost. And nobody wants to lose them.

This is undoubtedly linked with the elections. I think that at these elections not only internal, but also external players are using the case. Pukach could have been found earlier. It was probably known where he was because in the modern world it’s impossible to hide. It’s no secret that at the moment there is pressure on Lytvyn (Speaker of Parliament) who is very seriously linked with this case. The most seriously of current politicians, and so Pukach’s arrest is a small piece of blackmail of Lytvyn.

Yevhen Zakharov, Co-Chair of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group

- Pukach’s arrest may have impact on progress in the case and may not have, it’s hard for me to say. However I don’t think that the arrest of this witness will provide answers to all the questions, I think there is no chance of uncovering those who ordered the killing. In my opinion, the arrest is not linked with the elections.

Yevhen Layer, editor of the Internet publication “Tribune”

- Clearly the fact that they’ve arrested the main person who carried out the murder (according to the official version of the investigators) is already a success since they now have the entire evidence base. As you recall the investigation was split into two parts – those who carried out the murder and those who ordered it.

I very much doubt that he will name those who ordered the killing. He can say that he carried out the orders of the late Kravchenko or Fere. I doubt very much that Pukach knows who at the very top gave the order. He’s not going to say that the order was given to him by Kuchma, Medvedchuk or Lytvyn, Tymoshenko or Yushchenko. And he can also say that they beat up Gongadze and let him go, and that he doesn’t know what happened next and those three guys who’ve already been imprisoned just gave false testimony against themselves. One can only guess what he’ll say. A lot depends on how he arranges things with the investigators, after all he’s facing life imprisonment. However if he says that he was carrying out a criminal order, that’s an entirely different matter. He’s not stupid and he won’t dig a hole for himself, and will therefore say something.

They’ve been playing the Gongadze card since 2000. Anything could be the case but I’m not a supporter of political theories. Do the operational and investigative groups really have to think each time when they’re arresting somebody about when the next parliamentary or presidential elections will be?

Slightly abridged from interviews at

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