Georgiy Ruslanovich Gongadze
21 May 1969
Tbilisi, Georgian SSR, Soviet Union (present-day Georgia)
|Died||17 September 2000 (aged 31)|
Tarashcha Woods, Tarashcha Raion, Ukraine
|Cause of death||decapitated and buried|
|Children||2 daughters (1997)|
|Occupation||Political activist, journalist|
|Known for||Ukrainian journalism, founder of Ukrayinska Pravda|
|Allegiance||Soviet Union / Georgia|
|Branch/service||Soviet Border Troops / pro-Georgian volunteers|
|Years of service||1987-1989 / 1991-1993|
|Battles/wars||Georgian Civil War|
War in Abkhazia (1992–93)
Georgiy Ruslanovich Gongadze (Ukrainian: Георгій Русланович Гонгадзе; Georgian: გიორგი ღონღაძე; 21 May 1969 – 17 September 2000) was a Ukrainian journalist and film director who was kidnapped and murdered in 2000 near Kyiv. He founded the internet newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda along with Olena Prytula in 2000.
The circumstances of his death became a national scandal and a focus for protests against the government of the then President, Leonid Kuchma. During the Cassette Scandal, audiotapes were released on which Kuchma, Volodymyr Lytvyn and other top-level administration officials are heard discussing the need to silence Gongadze for his online news reports about high-level corruption. Former Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko died of two gunshots to the head on 4 March 2005, just hours before he was to begin providing testimony as a witness in the case. Kravchenko was the superior of the four policemen who were charged with Gongadze's murder soon after Kravchenko's death. The official ruling of suicide was doubted by media reports.
Three former officials of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry's foreign surveillance department and criminal intelligence unit (Valeriy Kostenko, Mykola Protasov and Oleksandr Popovych) accused of his murder were arrested in March 2005 and a fourth one (Oleksiy Pukach, the former chief of the unit) in July 2009. A court in Ukraine sentenced Protasov to a sentence of 13 years and Kostenko and Popovych to 12-year terms March 2008 (the trial had begun January 2006) for the murder. Gongadze's family believe the trial had failed to bring the masterminds behind the killing to justice. No one has yet been charged with giving the order for Gongadze's murder.
Early years and fall of the Soviet Union
Born in Tbilisi, at the time the capital of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic of the Soviet Union, Gongadze was the son of a Georgian architect Ruslan Gongadze and a Ukrainian dentist Olesya Korchak (a native of Lviv). His parents met in Lviv where they studied in universities and eventually got married. In 1967 the young Gongadze family moved to Tbilisi. Georgiy was born as a twin, but his brother was taken away while both of them were at the maternity chamber. Diminutive name for Georgiy was Giya. When Giya was 6 years old his parents divorced and his father later married for the second time and had another son from his second marriage. Giya's mother stayed single and continued to live and work in Tbilisi until 1994.
During his school years, Giya was an outstanding athlete and was part of the Soviet reserve Olympic team in sprint on 100 and 200 meters. In his childhood Giya was growing up in multi-language environment speaking in Russian, Georgian, and English in school and Ukrainian at home. In 1986 Giya enrolled in the Foreign Languages Institute in Tbilisi with specialization in English language, but in 1987 he was already drafted in the Soviet Army serving in Turkmenistan on the border with Iran. His mother said that she had to pay to avoid for Georgiy to be sent to Afghanistan (Soviet–Afghan War). During that time the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachov started his reforms perestroika along with liberalization of censorship (glasnost). The process only sped up the process of dissolution of the Soviet Union. Trying to stop the process and preserve the Soviet state, several armed and civil conflicts arose in the Soviet Union among which was the April 9 tragedy (Soviet troops killed 20 unarmed civilians) which radicalized many Georgians including Georgiy Gongadze.
In May 1989 Giya returned from the army. Both Ruslan Gongadze and his son Georgiy Gongadze joined the National Movement "For free Georgia" where Georgiy was its spokesperson, while Ruslan Gongadze became the leader. In 1989-90 Georgiy traveled to the Baltic states and Ukraine trying to find extra public support and rally more allies in the struggle to free Georgia from the Soviet Union. As part of his tour, in September 1989 Georgiy attended the first congress of the National Movement of Ukraine (People's Movement of Ukraine) in Kiev where he represented the Georgian organization. Georgiy also attended the first non-communist music and youth festival Chervona Ruta that in September 1989 was taking place in Chernivtsi. At the festival he met with Mariana Stetsko whom he married in 1990 and settled in Lviv. There Georgiy found a job as a teacher of English language and physical culture (fitness instructor). While working, Gongadze also studied at the Romano-Germanic languages Faculty of Ivan Franko National University. On 24 August 1991 the Ukrainian parliament announced that all residents of the Ukrainian SSR are considered to be citizens of Ukraine (Ukrainian citizenship).
In 1991 the first President of Georgia Zviad Gamsakhurdia announced several of his former allies as "enemies of people" among which was the father of Georgiy Gongadze. Ruslan Gongadze was forced to hide in a basement of a building next to the parliament in Tbilisi. In December 1991 a civil war ensued when government forces opened fire upon anti-Gamsakhurdia protestors in Tbilisi, while a militia armed by the oppositional parties counter-attacked. At the end of 1991 during the ongoing war Georgiy Gongadze returned to his mother in Tbilisi along with "Kalashnikov" saying, "Mom, I arrived to protect the name and honor of my father". Giya was not using the rifle and led a team of medical emergency services transferring wounded to a hospital until snipers opened fire on medics. On 14 January 1992 Zviad Gamsakhurdia fled Tbilisi and struggle ended. The power was taken by the opposition and a new president was elected. It was Eduard Shevardnadze, the former Soviet Foreign Minister and Communist leader of Soviet Georgia. On 15 January 1992 Georgiy Gongadze returned to Lviv where he found out that his wife left him.
In 1992 Gongadze founded a Georgian Culture Association in Lviv which was named after the Georgian Prince Bagrationi and served as an informational center. During the registration of the organization in government offices, Gongadze met Myroslava Petryshyn his future second wife. Both of them wrote an article "Tragedy of leaders" (Ukrainian: Трагедія лідерів) about the Georgian Civil War that was published in the Lviv newspaper "Post-Postup" in 1992. Later in 1992 Gongadze returned to Tbilisi again to visit his mother who continued to work in a hospital as a nurse. At the time he had intentions to leave active politics and started an own business. But after speaking with several people changed his mind, while his mother was encouraging him to write about the victims of the civil war in Georgia. Gongadze received a camera from his mother and filmed a documentary about the civil war in Georgia "The pain of my land" (Ukrainian: Біль моєї землі). In February 1993 the film was shown on the Ukrainian channel UT-3. During that period in 1992 Abkhazia and South Osetia proclaimed their independence and Georgia accused Russia in instigating conflicts in those regions. Soon new conflicts started.
Russian intervention to Georgia and journalism in Ukraine
Gongadze volunteered to war in Abkhazia, but was refused to be admitted to military service by the government authorities and offered for being a son of Ruslan Gongadze and a Ukrainian citizen to provide propaganda agitation in Ukraine. Georgiy returned to Lviv to perform his "diplomatic mission" in an active support of Georgia in inter-ethnic conflict. At that time in Ukraine he only was able to find a marginal group of UNA-UNSO that were ready to dedicate itself to the Georgian cause. Gongadze was visiting UNA-UNSO gatherings to find recruits for fighting in Georgia. UNA-UNSO that had for its goal "to exile communists and criminals from Ukraine and overpower the Russian expansionism" seemed to be coinciding with Georgian nationalists. In July 1993 the UNA-UNSO battalion "Argo" led by Dmytro Korchynsky arrived to Tbilisi and was ready for fight in Abkhazia.
Gongadze did not return to Georgia with UNA-UNSO, but rather stayed back in Ukraine as his father Ruslan Gongadze became ill with cancer and in March 1993 the government of Georgia send him to Ukraine for recovery. Georgiy moved to Kiev and stayed with his father. Ruslan Gongadze did not survive and died on 5 August 1993 at age 49. With the body of his father, Georgiy Gongadze returned to Tbilisi. After burying his father, Gongadze started to film a new documentary about the Ukrainian fighters in Abkhazia, funds for which he obtained from selling his "Kalashnikov" rifle. With the ongoing war that started in August 1992, the separatist forces supported by Russia took over most of Abkhazia and surrounded administrative center of Abkhazia, Sukhumi. In September 1993 in exchange for a cease fire, the government of Georgia agreed to pull its troops and heavy armament from Sukhumi. However, instead of cease fire the separatists started to assault the city. The city was protected by an army of irregular detachments. The president of Georgia Eduard Shevardnadze who also was present during the siege appealed to the President of Russia Boris Yeltsin to stop the attack, but Yeltsin chose to ignore it.
On 17 September 1993 Gongadze left Tbilisi for Sukhumi to film the events. Upon arrival, he was mobilized later that night and the following morning was at the frontlines along the Gumista River where the enemy was conducting the main assault. Gongadze was in a trench when over his head blew up an artillery shell. Shrapnel hit him in 26 places including his right hand. From imminent death he was saved by a steel helmet. Two other people that stood next to him perished. Those shards of shell forever were left inside of his body; and later were used to identify his dead body. About him being wounded, it was mentioned in a report from Sukhumi that was published in a Russophone Tbilisi newspaper "Svobodnaya Gruzia" on 21 September 1993. Gongadze was right away taken to a field hospital where he turn attention to himself by requesting to return from the battlefield his bag with video cassettes. That fact recalled the local militant Konstantin Alania also known as Koba who later became his friend for life. The cassettes were recovered by volunteers. The same Saturday night Gongadze and several other seriously wounded were sent to Tbilisi on a plane not long before the separatists occupied the city. Koba was left behind continue fighting and later managed to escape with some other militants withdrawing through mountain corridors. In 1995 he left Georgia for Lviv where by an accident met again with Georgiy.
In Tbilisi Gongadze continued with a treatment in a military hospital tended by his mother. However the worst situation was with food due to the situation in the country. His mother tried to send her son away from Georgia, but did not have enough money as the government did not pay the hospital staff since December 1991. Olesya Gongadze managed to raise some funds through friends and relatives and after spending two weeks in the hospital Georgiy flew away to Lviv in October 1993. Olesya Gongandze stayed behind. In Ukraine Georgiy created a new documentary out of his video cassettes that was shown on the Ukrainian television "Shadows of war". He married Myroslava and in 1997 the couple had two daughter-twins.
In 1996-1997 Gongadze worked for the Ukrainian television channel STB. He worked for the Kiev-based radio station Kontynent, on which he had his own show called First round with Heorhiy Gongadze. His strongly independent line soon attracted hostility from the increasingly authoritarian government of Leonid Kuchma; during the October 1999 presidential election, his commentaries prompted a call from Kuchma's headquarters to say "that he had been blacklisted to be dealt with after the election." In 1999 he was a spokesman for the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine Nataliya Vitrenko. Visiting New York in January 2000 with other Ukrainian journalists, he warned of "the strangulation of the freedom of speech and information in our state."
In April 2000, Gongadze co-founded a news website, Ukrayinska Pravda (Ukrainian Truth), as a means of sidestepping the government's increasing influence over the mainstream media. He observed that following the muzzling of a prominent pro-opposition newspaper after the election, "today there is practically no objective information available about Ukraine". The website specialized in political news and commentary, focusing particularly on President Kuchma, the country's wealthy "oligarchs" and the official media.
In June 2000, Gongadze wrote an open letter to Ukraine's chief prosecutor about harassment from the SBU, the Ukrainian secret police, directed towards himself and his Ukrayinska Pravda colleagues and apparently related to an investigation into a murder case in the southern port of Odessa. He complained that he had been forced into hiding because of harassment from the secret police, that he said he and his family were being followed, that his staff were being harassed, and that the SBU were spreading a rumor that he was wanted on a murder charge.
Georgiy's mother died in 2013.
Disappearance and investigations
Gongadze disappeared on 16 September 2000, after failing to return home. Foul play was suspected from the outset. The matter immediately attracted widespread public attention and media interest. Eighty journalists signed an open letter to President Kuchma urging an investigation and complaining that "during the years of Ukrainian independence, not a single high-profile crime against journalists has been fully resolved." Kuchma responded by ordering an immediate inquiry. This was, however, viewed with some skepticism. Opposition politician Hryhoriy Omelchenko reported that the disappearance had coincided with Gongadze receiving documents on corruption within the president's own entourage. The Ukrainian Parliament set up a parallel inquiry run by a special commission. Neither investigation produced any results.
Two months later, on 3 November 2000, a body was found in a forest in the Taraschanskyi Raion (district) of the Kiev Oblast (province), some 70 km (43 mi) outside Kiev near the city of Tarashcha. The corpse had been decapitated and doused in dioxine, apparently to make identification more difficult; forensic investigations found that the dioxine bath and decapitation had occurred while the victim was still alive. The Russian-edited, Russian-language Ukrainian newspaper Sevodnya ("Today") reported that Gongadze had been abducted by policemen and accidentally shot in the head while seated in a vehicle, necessitating his decapitation (to avoid the bullet being recovered and matched to a police weapon). His body had been doused in petrol which had failed to burn properly, and had then been dumped. A group of journalists first identified it as being that of Gongadze, a finding confirmed a few weeks later by his wife Myroslava. In a bizarre twist, the corpse was then confiscated by the police and resurfaced in a morgue in Kiev. The authorities did not officially acknowledge that the body was that of Gongadze until the following February and did not definitively confirm it until as late as March 2003. The body was eventually identified and was to be returned to Gongadze's family to be buried two years after his disappearance. However, the funeral never took place. As of 23 June 2006 Gongadze's mother refused to accept the remains offered as it was not the body of her son. While visiting Kiev in July 2006, Gongadze's widow Myroslava emphasized that the funeral had now become a solemn family issue and the date of the funeral would soon be appointed.
On 28 November 2000, opposition politician Oleksandr Moroz publicized secret tape recordings which he claimed implicated President Kuchma in Gongadze's murder. The recordings were said to be of discussions between Kuchma, presidential chief of staff Volodymyr Lytvyn, and Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko, and were claimed to have been provided by an unnamed SBU officer (later named as Major Mykola Mel'nychenko, Kuchma's bodyguard). The conversations included comments expressing annoyance at Gongadze's writings as well as discussions of ways to shut him up, such as deporting him and arranging from him to be kidnapped and taken to Chechnya. Killing him was, however, not mentioned and doubt was cast on the tapes' authenticity, as the quality of the recordings was poor. Moroz told the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada (parliament) that "the professionally organized disappearance, a slow-moving investigation, disregard for the most essential elements of investigation and incoherent comments by police officials suggest that the case was put together."
In September 2001, the American detective agency Kroll Inc., contracted by Labor Ukraine, had carried out a six-month investigation and concluded that then-President Leonid Kuchma had nothing to do with the murder of Gongadze.
The affair became a major political scandal (referred to in Ukraine as the "Cassette Scandal" or "Tapegate"). Kuchma strongly denied Moroz's accusations and threatened a libel suit, blaming the tapes on foreign agents. He later acknowledged that his voice was indeed one of those on the tapes, but claimed that they had been selectively edited to distort his meaning.
Crises and controversy
The affair became an international crisis for the Ukrainian government during 2001, with the European Union expressing dissatisfaction at the official investigation, rumors of Ukrainian suspension from the Council of Europe, and censure from the OSCE, which described Gongadze's death as a case of "censorship by killing" and castigated the "extremely unprofessional" investigation. Mass demonstrations erupted in Kiev in February 2001, calling for the resignation of Kuchma and the dismissal of other key officials. He did sack the head of the SBU, Leonid Derkach, and the chief of the presidential bodyguard, Volodymyr Shepel, but refused to step down. The government invited the US FBI to investigate, though it does not appear that this offer was ever taken up. The protests were eventually forcibly broken up by the police.
In May 2001, interior minister Yuriy Smirnov announced that the murder had been solved—it was attributed to a random act of violence committed by two "hooligans" with links to a gangster called "Cyclops". Both of the killers were said to now be dead. The claim was dismissed by the opposition and by the government's own prosecutor-general, whose office issued a statement denying Smirnov's claims.
Mass protests again broke out in Kiev and other Ukrainian cities in September 2002 to mark the second anniversary of Gongadze's death. The demonstrators again called for Kuchma's resignation but the protests again failed to achieve their goal, with police breaking up the protesters' camp.
The prosecutor of the Tarascha district, where Gongadze's body was found, was convicted in May 2003 for abuse of office and falsification of evidence. Serhiy Obozov was found guilty of forging documents and negligence in the investigation and was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison. However, he was immediately released due to a provision of Ukraine's amnesty laws.
In June 2004, the government claimed that a convicted gangster identified only as "K" had confessed to Gongadze's murder, although there was no independent confirmation of the claim. The ongoing investigation received a setback when a key witness died of spinal injuries apparently sustained while in police custody.
Gongadze's death became a major issue in the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election, in which the opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko pledged to solve the case if he became president. Yushchenko did become president following the subsequent Orange Revolution and immediately launched a new investigation, replacing the country's prosecutor-general.
The Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly adopted on 27 January 2009 Resolution 1645 on the investigation of crimes allegedly committed by high officials during the Kuchma rule in Ukraine – the Gongadze case as an emblematic example. This Resolution calls on the Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office to use all possible avenues of investigation to identify those who instigated and organised the murder of Giorgiy Gongadze.
Arrests and trials
Arrest and trial of three former policemen and death of Kravchenko
On 1 March 2005, Yushchenko announced that the journalist's suspected killers had been arrested. Prosecutor-General Svyatoslav Piskun announced the following day that the case had been solved, telling Ukrainian television that Gongadze had been strangled by employees of the Interior Ministry. Two of the alleged killers were said to be senior policemen working for the Interior Ministry's criminal investigations directorate (CID). Former Interior Minister Yuri Kravchenko, one of those recorded with Leonid Kuchma in the Cassette Scandal, was also said to be under investigation. The two police colonels accused of the killing have been detained and a third senior policeman, identified as CID commander Oleksiy Pukach, was being sought on an international arrest warrant.
On 4 March, Yuri Kravchenko was found dead in a dacha in the elite residential area of Koncha-Zaspa, outside Kiev. He had died from apparently self-inflicted gunshot wounds, though some speculated that he might have been assassinated to prevent him from testifying as a witness. Hryhory Omelchenko, who chaired the parliamentary committee that investigated the Gongadze case, told the New York Times that Kravchenko had ordered Pukach to abduct Gongadze on President Kuchma's orders. Kuchma himself has denied this allegation but has since been interviewed by investigators. Kravchenko left an alleged suicide note: “My dear ones, I am not guilty of anything. Forgive me, for I became a victim of the political intrigues of President Kuchma and his entourage. I am leaving you with a clear conscious, farewell."
In April/May 2005, Piskun released more details of the ongoing investigation. He told the press that after Gongadze was murdered, a second group disinterred him and re-buried him where he was eventually found, in the constituency of Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz. According to Piskun, the aim was to undermine the government (led by Viktor Yushchenko when he was still Prime Minister). The second group was part of or allied with the United Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (SDPUo), a pro-oligarch grouping which had been hit hard by Yushchenko's crackdown on corruption and therefore wanted to see his government toppled. According to the journal Ukrayina moloda (14 April 2005), the SDPUo moved Gongadze in order to discredit President Leonid Kuchma and force early elections, which could have led to party leader Medvedchuk succeeding Kuchma.
The trial against the three former policemen charged with the killing of Georgiy Gongadze started on 9 January 2006. The other main suspect, ex-police officer, Oleksiy Pukach was believed to have fled abroad and therefore charged but not on trial. No-one had been charged for ordering the murder. On the day the trial started Gongadze's widow Myroslava Gongadze commented on the fact that no-one has been charged for the killing: "They are known and they should be punished just the same as those who will be sitting in the dock today".
In mid March 2008, the three former police officers were sentenced to prison for the actual act of murder of Gongadze. Mykola Protasov was given a sentence of 13 years, while Valeriy Kostenko and Oleksandr Popovych were each handed 12-year terms. But so far the investigations have failed to show who ordered the murder.
Arrest and trial of Oleksiy Pukach
On 22 July 2009, Oleksiy Pukach, one of the chief suspects, was arrested in Ukraine's Zhytomyr Oblast. The former chief of the main criminal investigation department at the Ukrainian Interior Ministry's foreign surveillance unit had lived in the house of Lidia Zagorulko who had told her neighbours that Pukach was the brother of her dead husband and that he was a former sea captain. Pukach had lived there with his real second name and original documents. At first it was reported and that he had implicated senior political figures in the murder and was ready to show the place where the journalist's head was hidden, but this was denied two days after his arrest by his lawyer. According to the lawyer "for the time being" Pukach was not intended to provide this information to the investigators. Prosecutor General Oleksandr Medvedko refused to comment whether Pukach named those who ordered the murder or not, saying a "secret investigation" was underway.
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On 28 July 2009, Ukrainian media reported that the remains of Gongadze's skull were found near Bila Tserkva, in a location specified by Pukach. According to the Prosecutor General's Office they did find fragments of a skull there that may belong to Gongadze.
A request by Gongadze's widow, Myroslava Gongadze, to replace deputy prosecutor general Mykola Holomsha and investigator Oleksandr Kharchenko, because of their insufficient professionalism and because they were unable to withstand political pressure and speculation surrounding the case, was rejected on 30 July 2009. A request by Gongadze to replace Pukach's lawyer was also denied on 28 October 2009.
On 20 November 2009, Gongadze's mother Lesya gave consent to an examination of fragments of the skull found end-July 2009 under the condition she could take fragments of the skull for private DNA examination she plans to conduct at a private foreign laboratory after the 2010 Ukrainian presidential election. In September 2010 she stated that in her opinion, the fragments of the skull found in July 2009 had nothing to do with her son.
On 3 December 2009, Pukach's detention was extended by two months.
On 6 December 2009, Mykola Melnychenko accused Volodymyr Lytvyn of ordering the murder of Gongadze in 2000. Melnychenko offered no proof to back up the claim. A spokesperson for Lytvyn dismissed the claims as part of the 2010 Ukrainian presidential election campaign.
On 14 September 2010, Ukraine's Office of the Prosecutor General issued a statement stating that prosecutors had concluded that former Interior Minister Yuri Kravchenko had ordered Pukach to carry out the murder, and stating that Pukach had confessed to the murder. According to Gongadze's widow, Myroslava Gongadze, "Kravchenko had had no grounds for such actions", she believes that several people ordered the killing of the journalist. According to Georgiy Gongadze's mother, Lesya, the statement was an attempt by the Prosecutor General's Office to excuse itself for its inactivity. On 16 September 2010 Chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament Volodymyr Lytvyn stated that the investigation into the murder of Gongadze confirmed his innocence in this crime.
On 30 August 2011, Pukach claimed that former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma was the one who ordered the murder. During the trial he also alleged that Kuchma's head of his Presidential Administration Volodymyr Lytvyn (at the time of the trial Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine's parliament) and member of the Verkhovna Rada) also ordered the murder of Gongadze.
In December 2011, the Pechersk District Court refused to accept witness testimony of Mykola Melnychenko as he has not been authorized to gather evidences for a committing crime, while conducting recordings in a cabinet of the President of Ukraine.
On 29 January 2013, Pukach was sentenced to a life imprisonment by the Pechersk District Courty of Kiev. Oleksiy Pukach also was stripped of his rank "General of Militsiya". The court ruled Pukach had murdered the journalist on orders from (former) Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko, who was seeking a career promotion.
On 9 July 2014, Gongadze's widow Myroslava withdraws her appeal against the sentence of Pukach; because (according to her lawyer Valentyna Telychenko) "if the Court of Appeals will meet our appeal, it will be forced to simultaneously release Pukach from custody. We believe that Pukach is a killer and should serve his sentence". Telychenko blamed former First Deputy Prosecutor General of Ukraine Renat Kuzmin for "speculating with the Gongadze case" that according to her led to "exhausting Pukach length of stay in detention during the preliminary investigation".
Charges against Leonid Kuchma
The General Prosecutor of Ukraine's Office cancelled its resolution to deny opening of criminal cases against former President Leonid Kuchma and other politicians within the Gongadze-case on 9 October 2010.
On 24 March 2011 Ukrainian prosecutors charged Kuchma with involvement in the murder. The decision prompted mixed reaction among the public. Former Prime Minister and the leader of the main opposition party Yulia Tymoshenko argued that Kuchma's arrest was no more than a PR stunt designed to distract people from their economic woes and prop up President Viktor Yanukovych's sagging popularity. Another theory was that Yanukovych was driven by the desire for revenge on Kuchma, who often humiliated Yanukovych and refused to use force to stop the Orange Revolution in 2004. Political analysts suggested that Yanukovych's "display of justice" could also be aimed at winning credit from the West, which has criticised him for usurping power and squeezing out democracy.
A Ukrainian district court ordered prosecutors to drop criminal charges against Kuchma on 14 December 2011 on grounds that evidence linking him to the murder of Gongadze was insufficient. The court rejected Mel'nychenko's recordings as evidence. Gongadze's widow Myroslava Gongadze appealed against this decision one week later.
First Deputy Prosecutor General of Ukraine Renat Kuzmin claimed 20 February 2013 that his office had collected enough evidence confirming Kuchma's responsibility for ordering Gongadze's assassination. Kuchma's reply the next day was: "This is another banal example of a provocation, which I've heard more than enough in the past 12 years".
2014 revisit investigation
On 9 July 2014 General Prosecutor of Ukraine Vitaliy Yarema stated that his Office would revisit investigations into high-profile cases "that were dropped unlawfully", including the cases dealing with the murder of Gongadze.
Gongadze was buried in the Mykola Naberezhny Church in Kiev on 22 March 2016. Gongadze had remained unburied until then, as Lesya Gongadze, the journalist's mother, has refused to have the body interred until Gongadze's head had been found. In 2009, according to the Prosecutor's General Office, the remains of his skull were found but Lesya Gongadze had refused to acknowledge that the found remains belonged to her son. Lesya Gongadze died on 30 November 2013.
President Viktor Yushchenko awarded Gongadze the title Hero of Ukraine on 23 August 2005. Gongadze's widow Myroslava Gongadze was given the 'Star of the Hero' decoration by President Petro Poroshenko on 21 March 2014.
In June 2005 Kiev's Industrialnaya Street was renamed Georgy Gongadze Street. A monument to Gongadze and all journalists killed for their professional activities was opened in Kiev park at Chervonoarmiyska street in August 2008, though Gongadze's mother, Lesya Gongadze, was against erecting a monument until the investigation is completed. She repeated her wish "to remove the monument to Gongadze" after a meeting with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on 22 June 2010, she also added her discontent with "political forces" holding "PR campaigns" regarding the Gongadze murder case.
A literary token of respect for the work and courage of Gongadze is to be found in the novel for young adults, "Fair Game: The Steps of Odessa" (Spire Publishing, 2008, ISBN 1-897312-72-5) by James Watson. The book is dedicated to Giya Gongadze, but the theme, of a persecuted journalist and the impact of his revelations about government corruption on his football-playing daughter, Natasha, and his son Lonya, has strong similarities to Gongadze's own fate.
as film director
- 1992 "The pain of my land" (Ukrainian: Біль моєї землі)
- 1993 "Shadows of War" (Ukrainian: Тіні війни) by the Center of Georgian Culture
- Freedom of the press in Ukraine
- List of solved missing persons cases
- Myroslava Gongadze, widow of Georgiy Gongadze.
- Olena Prytula, co-founder of Ukrayinska Pravda
- Orange Revolution
- Ukrayinska Pravda
- Vasyl Klymentyev, journalist who disappeared in 2010
Footnotes and references
- As established by the investigation and proved by the court. See Gongadze Case (2000–2008): A Legal Review by Dr iur Vyacheslav "Slavik" Bihun, LL.M. – http://www.bihun.info/jushits/jurhit/article/242/
- Key suspect in Gongadze murder arrested; Pukach allegedly strangled journalist, but who gave the order? (UPDATED), Kyiv Post, (22 July 2009)
- Tymoshenko hopes those who ordered killing of Gongadze will be identified and punished, Interfax-Ukraine (29 July 2009)
- Ukraine finds 'reporter's skull', BBC News (28 July 2009)
- Key Ukraine murder trial begins, BBC News (9 January 2006)
- "Ukraine journalist killers jailed". BBC. 15 March 2008. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
- (in Ukrainian) Presidential decree awarding title Hero of Ukraine, Official Verkhovna Rada website
- Body Of Ukrainian Reporter Gongadze Finally Buried, Radio Free Europe (22 March 2014)
Gongadze's body to be buried in Kyiv on March 22, Interfax-Ukraine (21 March 2014)
- From a warrior to a journalist (Від бійця до журналіста). Ukrayinska Pravda. 16 September 2003
- "Outspoken Ukraine journalist missing". BBC News. 19 September 2000. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
- Rudenko, Olga (30 November 2013). "Gongadze's mother dies at 69". Kiyv Post. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
- Ukraine remembers slain reporter, BBC News (16 September 2004)
- ForUm: Breaking Ukrainian News Archived 21 March 2005 at the Wayback Machine
- (in Russian)Мать Гонгадзе отказывается хоронить выданное ей тело и «устраивать похороны чужих останков»[permanent dead link] // Остров – Новости.
- Cabinet involves U.S. Trout Cacheris in auditing activity of previous Cabinet, Kyiv Post (13 May 2010)
- Private eyes could probe corpse case, Kyiv Post (29 March 2001)
- Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia 2004 (Europa Publications), Routledge, 12 December 2003, ISBN 1-85743-187-1 (page 504)
- ECtHR jugdgment on application No. 34056/02
- "Ukraine's 'censorship killing'". BBC News. 14 February 2001. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
- "Judge denies journalist's murder solved". BBC. 17 May 2001. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
- "Ukraine official sentenced over journalist murder". BBC. 7 May 2003. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
- "'Killer admits' Gongadze murder". BBC News. 21 June 2004. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
- PACE Resolution 1645 (2009) Archived 20 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
- "'Gongadze killers' held by police". BBC. 1 March 2005. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
- Employees of SBU and Prosecutor’s General office detained Pukach, UNIAN (22 July 2009)
- Events by themes: On July, 21 Aleksey Pukach was arrested near Zhytomir. He named the masterminds of Gongadze’s murder, UNIAN (22 July 2009)
- How Pukach was detained (video), UNIAN (23 July 2009)
- Pukach lived with his second name and original documents Archived 26 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine, MIGnews (23 July 2009)
- Ukraine general 'killed reporter', BBC News (22 July 2009)
- Pukach hasn't named key figures in Gongadze murder, says lawyer, Interfax-Ukraine (24 July 2009)
- Source: Fragment of Gongadze's skull found, Interfax-Ukraine (28 July 2009)
- UPDATE: PGO Finds Skull Fragments Allegedly Belonging To Gongadze Archived 1 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine, Ukrainian News Agency (29 July 2009)
- Medvedko Refuses To Remove Holomsha From Investigation Into Gongadze's Murder Archived 5 February 2013 at Archive.today, Ukrainian News Agency (30 July 2009)
- Prosecutors not planning to change staff of investigative group on Gongadze case, Interfax-Ukraine (30 July 2009)
- PGO refuses to replace Pukach's lawyer, as requested by Gongadze's widow, Kyiv Post (28 October 2009)
- Gongadze's mother agrees to DNA tests of skull that might belong to his son after presidential elections, Interfax-Ukraine (20 November 2009)
- Lesya Gongadze: They want to blame my son's murder on a dead person, Kyiv Post (14 September 2010)
- Court extends detention of Pukach, allegedly involved in Gongadze murder, by two months, Kyiv Post (3 December 2009)
- Former guard accuses parliament speaker of Gongadze murder, Kyiv Post (8 December 2009)
- Prosecutors to complete investigation of Pukach, Gongadze murder suspect, by autumn, Kyiv Post (20 April 2010)
- Medvedko: Prosecutor s planning to complete investigation into Gongadze case in July–August, Kyiv Post (29 June 2010)
- Mother of murdered journalist Gongadze calls for politicians not to hold PR campaigns on 'Gongadze case', Kyiv Post (22 June 2010)
- Ukraine Ex-Minister Ordered Journalist's Murder, Voice of America (14 September 2010)
- Lawyer: Several people ordered Gongadze's murder, Kyiv Post (16 September 2010)
- Lytvyn says investigation into Gongadze murder confirms his innocence in this crime, Kyiv Post (16 September 2010)
- Gongadze murder suspect's trial should be open to public, Committee to Protect Journalists (16 August 2011)
- Court sentences Pukach to life for murdering Gongadze, disregards claims against Kuchma, Lytvyn, Kyiv Post (29 January 2013)
Ukraine police officer accuses ex-president after being jailed for life, Reuters (29 January 2013)
Gongadze killer pointed on Kuchma and Lytvyn. "LIGABusinessInform". 2013-1-29
- Former policeman 'carried out Georgiy Gongadze murder on behalf of Leonid Kuchma', Telegraph.co.uk (1 September 2011)
- Court rejects Melnychenko's tapes as evidence in Gongadze case, Kyiv Post (14 December 2011)
- (in Ukrainian) Gongadze's wife withdraws appeal against sentence Pukach, Ukrayinska Pravda (9 July 2014)
- Prosecutor general's office can open criminal cases against former President Leonid Kuchma and other politicians, Kyiv Post (October 2010)
- "Ukraine's ex-president: Catching Kuchma". The Economist. The Economist Newspaper Limited. 399 (8727): 25. 2–8 April 2011.
- Court clears Kuchma of Gongadze murder charges, Kyiv Post (14 December 2011)
- Gongadze's widow to appeal court ruling to drop criminal case against Kuchma, Kyiv Post (14 December 2011)
- Gongadze's widow appeals closure of criminal case against Kuchma, Kyiv Post (21 December 2011)
- Ukraine's Leonid Kuchma 'implicated' in Gongadze death, BBC news (20 February 2013)
Kuchma outraged by reports alleging his arrest, Kyiv Post (21 February 2013)
- Ukrainian prosecutors to revisit high-profile cases, including Gongadze killing - prosecutor general, Kyiv Post (9 July 2014)
- Poroshenko awards Hero of Ukraine medal to widow of slain journalist Gongadze, Interfax-Ukraine (21 March 2014)
- Gongadze Street in Kiev Archived 27 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine, ForUm (17 June 2005)
- Monument to Gongadze to be opened in Kiev this August Archived 27 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine, ForUm (28 July 2008 )
- Monument to Gongadze to be opened in Kiev against mother's will Archived 27 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine, ForUm (26 August 2008 )
- Residents of Kyiv, Lviv to mark Gongadze murder on 16 Sept., Kyiv Post (16 September 2010)
- The film of Georgiy Gongadze again is becoming popular. "Vysokyi Val". 10 August 2008
- "Ukraine: Radio station accuses authorities of bullying tactics", BBC Monitoring (from "Den", Kiev), 27 October 1999
- "Journalists seek freedom on the net", Kyiv Post, 4 May 2000
- "Outspoken Ukraine journalist missing", BBC News, 19 September 2000
- "Corpse of missing journalist found in Ukraine", Interfax, 16 November 2000
- "Opposition leader blames Ukrainian president for "ordering" reporter's disappearance", Interfax, 28 November 2000
- "Ukraine's 'censorship killing'", BBC News, 14 February 2001
- "Judge denies journalist's murder solved", BBC News, 17 May 2001
- "Ukraine official sentenced over journalist murder", BBC News, 7 May 2003
- "'Killer admits' Gongadze murder", BBC News, 21 June 2004
- "'Gongadze killers' held by police", BBC News, 1 March 2005
- "Former intelligence chief alleged to have personally strangled Gongadze", IFEX, 19 April 2005
- "Key Ukraine murder trial begins", BBC News, Monday, 9 January 2006
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Georgiy Gongadze.|
- BBC News reports on the latest developments in the investigation of Gongadze's death
- "Killing the Story", the BBC's extensive investigation of Gongadze's case
- Collection of photocopied documents supposedly leaked from the criminal investigation of Gongadze's murder
- Georgiy Gongadze murder: A horrific crime (September 2010 timeline of the crime by Kyiv Post)
- Georgiy Gongadze case: Anatomy of a cover-up (September 2010 timeline of alleged cover-up of the crime by Kyiv Post)
- Gondadze Case (2000–2008): A Legal Review – an Investigation by Dr iur Vyacheslav "Slavik" Bihun, LL.M. (September 2008 YurGazeta YurGazeta a review, a comprehensive chronology of events, interviews with judge I. Griroryeva, trial attorneys V. Chevguz, M. Laptiyev, V. Telychenko (lawyer for M. Gongadze), Myroslava Gongadze, etc.)
- Key Witness in the Gongadze Case Dead (March 2005 Ukrayinska Pravda article on the death of Kravchenko, analysing also his role in Gongadze case – includes fragments of the Melnychenko recordings)
- How the Gongadze Case Has Been Investigated (June 2005 Ukrayinska Pravda article on the history of the Gongadze case investigation)
- Ukrayins'ka Pravda's Web-page dedicated to Gongadze and his case
- About Gongadze. 24 kanal.
- Gongadze about Tymoshenko. Delo vkusa.
- Dialogue of Gongadze with Medvedchuk.