Morley Safer Letter 10 17May99 Who murdered Volodymyr Katelnytsky?
It is conceivable that had you not broadcast The Ugly Face of Freedom, Volodymyr Katelnytsky would be alive today. And it is all the more conceivable that had you used the opportunity of your broadcast to defend Ukrainians against their oppressors, Volodymyr Katelnytsky would be alive today.
The death of Volodymyr Katelnytsky
My source is a Ukrainskyi Holos (Ukrainian Voice) article mailed to me by someone that knew Volodymyr Katelnytsky. The citation that is hand-written on the article is "4-20 August, 1997, p. 1."
The Ukrainskyi Holos article reports that Volodymyr Katelnytsky was tortured to death in his apartment in Kyiv, Ukraine on the night of 7-8 July 1997. His mother, Lykeria, who was 81 years old, was tortured and died before the eyes of her son; her body was found with 21 stab wounds. When Katelnytsky's sister tried to enter the apartment in which the crime had been committed, she was roughed up by Kyiv police. Some members of the Katelnytsky family were arrested. The murders are considered to have been politically motivated. Volodymyr Katelnytsky's funeral was attended by some two thousand mourners.
The life of Volodymyr Katelnytsky
Volodymyr Katelnytsky was a professional journalist. He was active in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Kyiv Patriarchate, was head of the Brotherhood of St. Andrej Pervozvanyi in Kyiv, and supervised the tour of the chief cities of Ukraine by Metropolitan Wasyl in May 1993. He was also active politically, serving as Deputy Head of the Ukrainian Christian Democratic Party. In Canada and the United States, he may be best remembered for the role he played as President of the Committee for the Defense of John Demjanjuk.
Also prominent among Volodymyr Katelnytsky's activities was the dissemination of a Ukrainian version of what happened at Babyn Yar, similar, I believe, to the version advocated on the Ukrainian Archive. One result of Volodymyr Katelnytsky's Babyn Yar activities is that he was sued for them by Jewish organizations in Ukrainian court, that in his defense he brought forward historical aerial reconnaissance photographs showing that none of the activities said to have taken place at Babyn Yar was visible from the air — not visible, that is, were signs of the execution and burial of 33,771 Jews, or the later disinterment and burning of their bodies. As a result of his convincing defense, the court acquitted Volodymyr Katelnytsky of the charges brought against him.
Who murdered Volodymyr Katelnytsky?
As we have no direct evidence of who murdered Volodymyr Katelnytsky, we can only perform a Cui bono? analysis which will at least tell us where to start looking. That is, if it is the case that the three most prominent events in Volodymyr Katelnytsky's life were: (1) that he defended John Demjanjuk, (2) that he contradicted the Soviet-inspired Holocaust version of the Babyn Yar story, and (3) that he was tortured to death along with his mother, then it would take a mental paralysis with which I have not as yet been seized to refuse to consider the first two of these events as possibly having caused the third.
I don't accuse you of having failed to cover the Katelnytsky assassination.
As you broadcast the Ugly Face of Freedom on 23 October 1994 and Volodymyr Katelnytsky's assassination did not take place until 7-8 July 1997, I obviously do not accuse you of having failed to cover the Katelnytsky assassination in your broadcast.
But I do accuse you of having missed the big story of which Katelnytsky's assassination is but one piece.
However, the persecution and assassination of Ukrainians did not begin in 1997. It began hundreds of years earlier, carried right up until your broadcast in 1994, and continued through 1997 to this day. What I do accuse you of, then, is ignoring a centuries-long stream of evidence attesting to the persecution of Ukrainians, and of broadcasting instead the story of the persecution of Russians and Jews even in the absence of evidence. Your investigations in Ukraine failed to turn up anything like a story of a prominent Russian activist being tortured to death in his apartment, whether along with his mother or alone. And your investigations in Ukraine failed to turn up anything like a story of a prominent Jewish activist being tortured to death in his apartment, whether along with his mother or alone. The story that you would have been able to document, but that you chose to ignore, is that Ukraine is a nation which is ruled by Russians and Jews, and in which Ukrainians are routinely persecuted and murdered.
And I do accuse you of having helped cause Katelnytsky's assassination.
But even though you could not have covered Katelnytsky's assassination in 1994, you could have in 1994 avoided giving encouragement to assassins who were at that time plotting such assassinations. Instead, you did give encouragement to Katelnytsky's assassins by demonstrating to them that the world press can be counted upon to continue broadcasting anti-Ukrainian calumnies even while Ukrainians were being victimized in their own land. It is conceivable that had you not broadcast The Ugly Face of Freedom, Volodymyr Katelnytsky would be alive today. And it is all the more conceivable that had you used the opportunity of your broadcast to defend Ukrainians against their oppressors, Volodymyr Katelnytsky would be alive today.
cc: Yaakov Bleich, Ed Bradley, Jeffrey Fager, Don Hewitt, Steve Kroft, Andy Rooney, Lesley Stahl, Mike Wallace, Simon Wiesenthal.
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