Leonid Kuchma   Letter 05   19-Sep-2000   Journalist Heorhy Gongadze vanishes in Kuchma's Ukraine
"Who is foolish enough to hope that such a regression to barbarism will go unpunished?" Lubomyr Prytulak

Heorhy Gongadze, head of online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda (Ukrainian Truth) at www.pravda.com.ua, whose whereabouts are unaccounted for since 16-Sep-2000.

To see an example of the sort of reporting that might get you killed in Leonid Kuchma's Ukraine, please read the Ukrainian Truth interview of Hryhory Omelchenko that has been translated on UKAR.

Further commentary on Heorhy Gongadze's disappearance can be found online at the International Press Institute (www.freemedia.at/index1.html), the Kyiv Post (www.thepost.kiev.ua), the Committee to Protect Journalists (www.cpj.org/protests/00ltrs/Ukraine25sept00pl.html), and in the Ukrainian Language at Ukrainska Pravda (www.pravda.com.ua/).

      September 19, 2000

Leonid Kuchma, President
vul. Bankova, 7
Kyiv, 252005
Telephone: 291-5274

Leonid Kuchma:

Heorhy Gongadze

The Ukrainian diaspora and indeed the whole world is appalled at the news that journalist Heorhy Gongadze, head of the online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda (Ukrainian Truth) at www.pravda.com.ua disappeared on his way home from work on Saturday 16-Sep-2000.

In the event that Mr. Gongadze is found dead, or is never found, what will the world think?  Since Mr. Gongadze was a leading critic of corruption in your administration, the world may well imagine that you are increasingly reverting to Stalinist tactics in order to retain power.

Stalinist tactics within Europe in the year 2000!  Who is ignorant enough to expect that in the information age, the rebirth of Stalinism a stone's throw from the heart of Europe can be kept from public view, or that it will quickly be forgotten?  Who is foolish enough to hope that such a regression to barbarism will go unpunished?

Mr. Kuchma you must either return Heorhy Gongadze safely to his family, or you must convincingly hunt down and punish those who not only carried out his abduction, but more importantly those who ordered it as well.  In the event that you do neither of these, this latest crime will be added to the others that you will some day have to answer for.

I remind you that among the deaths of note that your administration has failed to provide a satisfactory account of are the following:

  1. Mykhailo Boichyshyn, Member of Parliament and head of Rukh, the Popular Movement of Ukraine party, abducted from his office and never heard from again 1994.

  2. Igor Bondar, head of television channel AMT, shot dead in Crimea 2000.

  3. Vadim Boyko, Member of Parliament, founder and host of the popular investigative television show Hart, killed in the fire that followed the exposion of his television set 1992.

  4. Vyacheslav Chornovil, head of Rukh and presidential candidate, killed in a mysterious car accident 1999.

  5. Vassil Chudik, head of radio station Nezavisimost, found with his carotid artery severed by broken glass in a stairwell in Lviv 2000.

  6. Boris Derevyanko, editor of Vechernaya Odessa, shot dead in Odessa 1997.

  7. Volodymyr Ivasiuk, nationalist composer and poet, found hanging in a forest near Lviv 1979.

  8. Volodymyr Katelnytsky, journalist and Deputy Head of the Ukrainian Christian Democractic Party, tortured to death along with his mother in his Kyiv apartment 1997.

  9. Miroslava Mayorchuk, crime reporter and editor of independent television channel STB, found hanging in her Kyiv apartment 2000.

  10. Petro Shevchenko, correspondent from Kiyevskiye Vedomosti, found hanging in an abandoned boiler room 1997.

Lubomyr Prytulak