As the sixth anniversary of the murder of Ukrainian journalist Georgy Gongadze approaches, the International Federation of Journalists said it has become alarmed by a sudden increase in attacks on press freedom and on individual journalists throughout the country.
In August, according to the IFJ, a series of journalists were kidnapped, beaten and denied access to press conferences, while the authorities issued new restrictions on the work of journalists.
The IFJ has written to Ukraine politicians calling on them to press for the prosecution of those responsible for ordering Gongadze’s murder during a parliamentary debate into his death today (15th September).
Three police officers are currently on trial for the murder. Despite this progress, the leading police officer believed to have actually shot and killed Gongadze (pictured above with his family), named by the IFJ as Oleksiy Pukach, remains on the run and nobody has been prosecuted for ordering his assassination.
Gongadze was shot and beheaded in woods outside of Kiev on 16th September, 2000. Evidence provided by the so called "Melnichenko tapes" suggested that his assassination was ordered by Ukraine’s president at that time, Leonid Kuchma.
"The IFJ is appalled that six years later the people who ordered Gongadze’s assassination remain free,” said Oliver Money-Kyrle, IFJ pProgrammes director.
“The recent rise in attacks against journalists is a result of that failure and will only serve to encourage further acts of intimidation, assault and murder.”
The IFJ says that on 9th August, in an act reminiscent of Gongadze’s own abduction and murder, correspondents of Nashe Radio Station were kidnapped in broad daylight in the centre of Kyiv and taken to the forests where they were assaulted. The next day the IFJ says Fiodor Saliy, director of the Crimean Broadcasting Company of Foros, was also assaulted.