Inquiry launches preliminary report

Ukraine must act, to defend freedom

As Ukraine's new President takes office, the inquiry into the killing of Georgy Gongadze issues its preliminary report. Georgy Gongadze was a 31-year-old journalist and publisher of the Internet journal Ukrainska Pravda ( He disappeared on 16 September 2000. He was later found headless in a ditch in a suburb of Kiev.

The report was launched in Strasbourg on 25 January by Georgy Gongadzeís widow, Myroslava, just an hour before the new Ukrainian president, Viktor Yushchenko, addresses the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in the same building. Mrs Gongadze was joined by representatives of the International Federation of Journalists and the UK National Union of Journalists, and European parliamentarians, in demanding that Mr Yushchenko and his new government prioritises the case as a precondition for protecting and furthering media freedom and human rights in Ukraine.

The report concludes that investigations into the case have been obstructed as a result of political collusion within Ukrainian state bodies. It argues that Ukraine must hold a wide-ranging public inquiry that examines this collusion - including the connection to the case of the so-called "Melnichenko tapes", on which former president Kuchma was heard talking to senior politicians about harming Gongadze. It warns that any attempt to avoid dealing with the issue of political collusion will be a step backwards for media freedom and human rights.

Also in Strasbourg tomorrow, the Legal Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will consider a call by 22 Europe parliamentarians, including Hanne Severinsen, head of the Council of Europeís monitoring team for Ukraine, and Malcolm Bruce MP and Lord Judd of the UK, to look in to the wider aspects of the Gongadze case to which the report refers.

For further information:

  • Tim Gopsill, NUJ. +44 20 7843 3701
  • Simon Pirani, NUJ. +44 20 8333 2152

The report's sponsors:

Preliminary recommendations

The report calls on president Yushchenko, the general prosecutorís office and the government of Ukraine:

  • To bring together and coordinate investigations into the possible surveillance of Georgy Gongadze, investigations into allegations of illegal armed formations operating within the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and investigations of the Melnichenko recordings and the issues raised by them;
  • To accept the proposal made last year by journalistsí organisations and NGOs for the expert examinations of the Melnichenko recordings to include observers from civil society;
  • To devise a transparent form of investigation of the nature of the links between the Melnichenko recordings and the Gongadze case;
  • To initiate a public inquiry, in an appropriate form under the Ukrainian constitution, into the broad issue of political collusion in the obstruction of justice in the Gongadze case;
  • To ensure that such an inquiry covers the possible political involvement in the case suggested by the Melnichenko recordings, the apparently deliberate obstruction of the original investigations into the case, the presentation of false information about these investigations to the public and to international institutions, and intimidation of public officials who dealt with the Gongadze case.

It calls on the Ukrainian parliament:

  • To hear the report of its ad-hoc commission on the Gongadze case without further delay and to publish its findings and accompanying documentation in full.

It calls on the Council of Europe, and other international bodies such as the UN and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe:

  • To support the Legal Affairs Commission of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in following closely and reporting on legal and procedural developments in the case, with regard to its wider aspects, as outlined in the Motion of Resolution to the Parliamentary Assembly by Ms Hanne Severinsen and others;
  • To promote similar monitoring by other international bodies;
  • To urge the Ukrainian government to commit itself to a broad examination of all aspects of the case as outlined above.
  • To develop mechanisms for rapid and concerted international action in the case of journalists killed for apparently political motives;

It calls on the International Federation of Journalists, journalistsí organisations and NGOs committed to freedom of speech

  • To develop an international campaign around the issue of impunity of senior political figures in respect of allegations of violent intimidation of journalists.
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