Reporters Sans Frontières release

27 September 2001

The Council of Europe votes for creating an independent commission for investigating the Gongadze affair

On 27 September, 2001 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, while examining a document on the Ukraine's honouring its obligations, voted in favour of the following amendment: "The Parliamentary Assembly recommends that the council of Ministers of the Council of Europe call on the Ukrainian authorities to initiate a new investigation into the disappearance and death of Georgy Gongadze and, with this in mind, create an independent commission of investigation, composed in particular of international investigators, and ask the governments of the Member States of the Council of Europe to offer the help of their investigators".

Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), which, along with Alexandra Gongadze, the journalist's mother, and Myroslava Gongadze, his widow, has for months been promoting - in particular with the institutions of the Council of Europe - the urgency of creating such an independent committee, is delighted with this vote. RSF now calls on the governments of the Member States of the Council of Europe to offer the help of their investigators.

A reminder of the facts

On 16 September, 2000, journalist Georgy Gongadze, very critical of the ruling party, disappeared. His decapitated body was found a few weeks later near Kiev. Revelations on the probable involvement of high-ranking government officials in the journalist's disappearance is continuing to unsettle President Leonid Kuchma's power base. Nonetheless, the Ukrainian state apparatus - justice and the police - have proved to be powerful obstacles in discovering the truth. The public prosecutor's office and the Ministry of the Interior, the threats of which Georgy Gongadze himself had revealed in the weeks prior to his disappearance, have opposed any serious investigation into the conditions of the disappearance and murder of the journalist. The investigative commission set up by the Ukrainian parliament has been denied any means for bringing its investigation to a successful end.

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