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Ukraine’s promises on media freedom and the Gongadze case not kept

22.02.2012    source:

In its Report on Attacks on the Press in 2011, the Committee to Protect Journalists writes that Ukraine’s government failed to deliver on President Yanukovych’s promises toinvestigate official harassment of news media and ensure justice in the 2000 murder of online journalist Georgy Gongadze.



» Gongadze prosecution falters as charges against Kuchma are dismissed.

» Domestic press face persistent threats; critical editor remains missing.

The government failed to deliver on President Viktor Yanukovych's promises toinvestigate official harassment of news media and ensure justice in the 2000 murder of online journalist Georgy Gongadze. Prosecutors indicted former President Leonid Kuchma on abuse-of-office charges in connection with the Gongadze slaying, alleging that he had ordered subordinates to silence the journalist. But after the Constitutional Court found that a key audiotape was inadmissible, a trial court in Kyiv dismissed the case in December. The ongoing trial of Aleksei Pukach, the former Interior Ministry general charged with strangling Gongadze, was marked by irregularities, delays,  and secrecy. The developments were seen as significant setbacks in the fight against impunity. As in past years, the domestic press faced persistent danger as reporters enduredthreats,  physical attacks, and censorship. Investigators reported no progress in the case of Vasyl Klymentyev, an editor who went missing in 2010 after reporting on alleged local corruption. Kharkiv-based cable television carriers stopped carrying programming from the independent news outlet ATN in August, according to press reports. ATN said regional authorities pressured the carriers to drop its critical news coverage.

Kuchma was long accused of having ordered Gongadze’s murder, but it took prosecutors more than a decade to indict the former leader. In September 2010, investigators announced that the late Interior Minister Yuri Kravchenko had ordered the killing. Kravchenko was found dead in 2005 with two gunshot wounds to the head. Authorities said Kravchenko had committed suicide, a claim greeted at the time with wide skepticism.

Gongadze case timeline:
September 16, 2000: Gongadze was abducted and murdered outside Kyiv.
October 2003: Prosecutors charged Interior Ministry Gen. Aleksei Pukach; he fled after his release on appeal.
March 2008: Three police officers were convicted in Gongadze murder.
July 2009: Pukach was arrested in northwestern Ukraine; his trial started in July 2011.
March 2011: Prosecutors indicted Kuchma on “abuse of office” charges.
December 2011: A Kyiv district court dropped charges against Kuchma, saying that evidence in the case against him had been illegally obtained.

The full report can be purchased or downloaded here

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