Letter to the UK Prime Minister

We the undersigned...

This letter, initiated by the NUJ and signed by leading journalists, academics, MPs and other public figures, will be delivered to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair in March. Please add your signature and forward it to others.

April 2003

The Rt. Hon. Tony Blair
Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
London SW1A 2AA

Dear Tony Blair

We the undersigned write to urge you to do your utmost to ensure that the case of Gyorgy Gongadze, the Ukrainian journalist murdered in September 2000, is properly investigated, and that the independent inquiry into the case called for by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is given the strongest support by the British Government.

We believe that the Gongadze case is of great importance for media freedom and human rights in general across the whole of Europe.

Gongadze was brutally murdered after writing articles exposing corruption at the highest levels of the Ukrainian leadership. This case is exceptional because there is strong evidence that senior officials in that leadership, including President Leonid Kuchma, conspired to harm Gongadze in the weeks prior to his death. Specifically, a former presidential security officer has produced tapes which appear to show Kuchma and senior ministers discussing the use of violence against Gongadze. And yet in the two years since Gongadze disappeared there has been no proper investigation.

The tapes are of such importance to the US that they have become the basis for the most serious rupture in US-Ukrainian relations since independence.

The White House has issued a statement saying these tapes are genuine and that the voice of Leonid Kuchma, President of Ukraine is authentic on a 90 second section of the tapes which relates to US national security. These are the same recordings with the same voice of Kuchma that is heard on sections of the tape relating to the Gongadze case. We hope that you will make clear to both the President of Ukraine, and the relevant bodies of the European Union and the Council of Europe, that the UK regards the resolution of this case as an issue of principle.

Yours sincerely -

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Last modified: 26 Sep 2003

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