President Leonid Kuchma instructed Prosecutor General Mykhaylo Potebenko and Internal Affairs Minister Ihor Smyrnov on July 10 to ensure a full and transparent investigation into the murder of Ihor Oleksandrov, the director of the TV and radio company TOR. "I will do
everything I can to punish the murderers," Kuchma wrote in a letter to Aleksandrov's widow, Interfax reported on July 10. "The investigation of this outrageous crime is under my personal control."
Aleksandrov hosted an analytical show in which he exposed links between organized crime and corrupt police on TOR television, the oldest private station in Ukraine with a reach of about 2 million regional viewers. His colleagues at TOR link the murder to investigative
reporting on corruption and organized crime in the region, as does Gennady Pochtar, the information and press center director of IREX ProMedia's center in Kiev. "I have no doubt the slaying was connected to his work as a journalist," Pochtar said, recalling an attempt to ban him from working as a journalist. He allegedly violated laws on election coverage in 1998 by calling a deputy "the king of Donbass Vodka."
The complaint was withdrawn in 2000, and the case was closed. However, Aleksandrov asked the Ukrainian courts to annul the original verdict, acknowledge that the public prosecutor's office erred, and grant compensation for moral damages. His appeal was denied.
Pochtar said IREX's Legal Defense and Education Program had helped the journalist to wage the legal battle, which eventually wound up in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
Aleksandrov's murder came nearly a year after journalist Georgy Gongadze, publicly appealed to authorities to reign in agents who tailed him and harassed employees of his Internet site, Ukrainska Pravda.
Internews-Ukraine, Quarterly Media Report, October 2001