Oksana Romanyuk, Reporters without Borders’ representative in Ukraine, writes that the authorities have not responded to the joint statement issued by 9 journalist NGOs and RWB a month ago regarding the Gongadze case. The statement was made public at a meeting of the Inter-departmental Working Group under the President on 30 January.
“We asked for an answer to questions normal for any democratic country, for example, the name of the investigation who took on the case of Yury Kravchenko (the former Minister of Internal Affairs who committed suicide with two gunshot wounds in the head) and when the investigation was scheduled to end in that case.
We strongly condemn the refusal by the Prosecutor General’s Office to investigate obstruction of the investigation in the Gongadze case, including obstructing identification of the people involved in falsifying and blocking investigation in 2000-2004; establishing and obstructing the investigation into L. Kuchma’s role, etc. The fact that there had been such obstruction was first established by the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights in the Case of Gongadze v. Ukraine from 8 November 2005. “
We asked for a criminal investigation over pressure on the investigators during the investigation into the murder of Gongadze. This pressure has already been established by the European Court of Human Rights.
We demanded that the procedural status be clarified of Volodymyr Lytvyn; Leonid Derkach; Edward. Fere and others, whose possible implication in the case is suggested in Oleksy Pukach’s testimony. There is the same mass of evidence against these people as against Leonid Kuchma. There is no clarity as to the status these people have, whether they are planning to initiate criminal proceedings against them and when. If they are not planning to, why not?
We also asked the SBU to inform whether Mykola Melnychenko, the key witness in the Gongadze case had been placed on the international wanted list.
The journalist organizations expected to receive an answer to these questions on 15 March at the next meeting of the Working Group.
However perhaps our questions were so inconvenient for the authorities that we were not simply not given any formal or compromise answers – our statement was simply ignored. The Prosecutor General’s representative actually stated that he had not seen the statement and had not received it.
The questions put by the journalist organizations have thus remained rhetorical. We will be sending this statement again, this time as an information request in accordance with the Law on Access to Information.
In this situation everything becomes more or less clear if we recall that the Gongadze case is an indicator for transparency and democracy in Ukraine.”
Oksana Romanyuk does see some positive elements in the agreement by the Prosecutor General’s Office to meet with representatives of the journalist community from the Institute for Mass Information and discuss various violations of journalists’ rights and investigations.
They have instigated meetings with other bodies regarding civil and criminal cases. The meetings are aimed at establishing what court cases can be open, which behind closed doors. This, she writes, is a problem at national level. The Pukach trial is going on behind closed doors despite the fact that among the 116 volumes of material only around 10 volumes are secret, as well as the considerable public interest and repeated calls by vitally all Ukrainian and European journalist and human rights organizations and international structures. The meetings are also aimed at establishing what should be understood as obstruction of a journalist carrying out his or her professional duties (this falling under Article 171 of the Criminal Code which is virtually never applied by the police or Prosecutor – translator).
On 19 March the Pechersky District Court in Kyiv is due to issue its decision whether or not to make the Pukach trial open. This will demonstrate whether the court is willing to take into consideration the interests not only of the authorities, but the considerable public interest and norms of European and international law.
Abridged from the article at