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Editor’s Note: The Kyiv Independent publishes a joint statement of Ukrainian media outlets on the day Ukrainian journalist Georgiy Gongadze was kidnapped in 2000. He was later found dead near Kyiv. Though the perpetrators of this crime were imprisoned, those who ordered the assassination were never identified and punished.
On Sept. 16, 2000, a group of law enforcers kidnapped journalist and founder of the Ukrainska Pravda media outlet Georgiy Gongadze. His mutilated headless body was found in November of that year in a forest in Kyiv Oblast.
Today marks 22 years since these horrific events. Since then, partial justice has been served thanks to the efforts of Gongadze’s family, the media community, and international organizations. All perpetrators of the crime were punished. However, those who ordered the murder of Gongadze have not been officially named.
Gongadze's death is one of the most notorious, but, unfortunately, not the only case of the violent death of a Ukrainian journalist. On July 20, 2016, journalist Pavlo Sheremet was killed in Kyiv. The investigation into those who ordered the murder of Sheremet is still ongoing.
On May 4, 2019, journalist Vadym Komarov was brutally beaten in the city of Cherkasy. After 46 days in a coma, he died. The crime still remains unsolved, and the perpetrators along with those who ordered the murder remain unpunished.
We demand from the authorities:
- to identify and punish those who ordered the murder of Gongadze, namely, give a clear answer regarding the alleged complicity of ex-president Leonid Kuchma in ordering it;
- to identify and punish the perpetrators and those who ordered the murder of Sheremet, as well as speed up the investigation of other cases of journalists’ murder, where perpetrators and those who ordered them have not yet been officially identified;
- to increase the effectiveness of the investigation of criminal offenses against Ukrainian journalists, and to provide journalists with effective protection and an adequate level of security.
Today we also honor 38 of our fellow journalists who have been killed by the Russian military in Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion this year. Eight of them were killed while being on assignment.
We call on the Ukrainian law enforcement agencies to promptly investigate all these murders, which are war crimes of the Russian Federation, and to ensure justice not only in Ukraine, but also to put all necessary effort into bringing Russian criminals to the international tribunal.
Ukraine is fighting for its independence. Every day Ukrainians pay a high price with their lives for the society to live in a democracy with the rule of law.
After the victory, Ukraine will rebuild its life, and it is crucial for all the murderers of heroes — soldiers, journalists, activists — to be punished.