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Twelve years on, no justice for Ukrainian journalist Georgiy Gongadze

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - 17 September 2012 - Impunity for killings and attacks on journalists prevail in Ukraine. 16 September marked the twelfth anniversary of the killing of investigative journalist Georgiy Gongadze, yet the masterminds behind his killing have still not been brought to justice. Unresolved cases also include Ihor Aleksandrov a journalist killed in 2001, Vasyl Klymentyev a journalist disappeared in 2010, and Volodymyr Honcharenko an ecologist killed in 2012.

"ARTICLE 19 marked the twelfth anniversary of Georgiy Gongadze's murder with deep sadness. Not only because the life of this young journalist was brutally taken away, but also because over ten years of convoluted criminal investigations and court proceedings have seen no significant result," said Dr Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19's Executive Director. "The impunity in his case has cast a long shadow over freedom of expression in Ukraine, demonstrating the dangers faced by those who dare to speak out critically, and the lack of protection afforded to them by the state.

"We call on the authorities to finally ensure a full and proper investigation into Gongadze's case as well as those of fellow journalists Vasyl Klymentyev and Ihor Aleksandrov. A prompt and effective investigation must also be carried out into the recent murder of ecologist Volodymyr Honcharenko. It is important that these crimes are recognised as crimes against freedom of expression," she continued.

The Ukrainian authorities have still not fulfilled their promise to bring the masterminds behind Gongadze's case to account. On 26 June 2012, Ukraine's Higher Special Court upheld a lower court decision to retract the criminal charges against former President Leonid Kuchma, and by doing so closed public access to information linked to the criminal charges. In an interview with ARTICLE 19, Valentyna Telychenko, the lawyer for the journalist's widow, Myroslava Gongadze, said: We are concerned that once again the focus is only on the perpetrators and that the masterminds are left out of the picture. High level government officials and politicians should not be shielded from being investigated."

Previously, in October 2011, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine ruled that evidence collected by Mykola Melnychenko, the former Major of the State Department of Guard and former bodyguard to President Kuchma, was done so illegally and could not serve as grounds for criminal charges.

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