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Ukraine - A Murder in
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The Murder of Georgy Gongadze

Follow key developments in the murder investigation from 2000 to 2005.

Georgy Gongadze, the crusading journalist who was murdered in 2000.

Georgy Gongadze, the crusading journalist who was murdered in 2000.

On September 16, 2000, Georgy Gongadze, journalist and director of the online opposition daily paper Ukrainskaya Pravda, disappeared. Prior to his disappearance Gongadze had reported that he was being followed by police. Two months later, a decapitated body thought to be that of Gongadze was found in a wooded area outside Kyiv.

In November 2000, President Leonid Kuchma was accused of giving an order to kidnap Gongadze. Socialist Party chief Olexander Moroz presented members of parliament with an audiotape that allegedly had the president telling Interior Minister Yuri Kravchenko to have the journalist "taken care of." Kuchma denied that it was his voice on the tape. In the next few months, thousands of protestors marched in the capital demanding the president's resignation.

Kuchma refused to resign and, in March 2001, fired Kravchenko. That same month, DNA tests conducted in Germany showed that the headless body did not belong to Gongadze. However, American experts carried out tests two months later, and they concluded that the DNA of the body did in fact match that of Gongadze.

During this time, the Ministry of the Interior continued to deny any political link to the case, even as a parliamentary commission investigating the murder accused the prosecution's office of thwarting the investigation.

In August 2003, Igor Goncharov, a former police officer suspected of involvement in the Gongadze murder, died in prison under unclear circumstances. A month later, a letter was made public in which Goncharov implicated Kuchma in the murder.

In June 2004, prosecutors announced that a Ukrainian man had confessed to killing Gongadze. The government continued to deny that the voice on the notorious audiotape was that of Kuchma.

In September 2004, the European Union complained about lack of progress in the investigation.

In the fall of 2004, after the Orange Revolution and the election of Viktor Yushchenko, Ukraine's chief prosecutor ordered a new investigation into the identity of the headless body. Meanwhile, Yushchenko said that two of the four key witnesses in the murder had been killed.

Then in March 2005, the prosecutor announced that the case had been solved, and the two killers had been arrested. Prosecutors then claimed that they knew who had ordered the murder. The office said that all those involved in executing the plot were members of the intelligence services of the Ministry of the Interior.

A few days after this announcement, former Interior Minister Kravchenko was found dead of an apparent suicide, mere hours before he was due to be questioned about his connection to Gongadze's murder.

Later in the spring of 2005, the prosecutor released more details about the ongoing investigation. He told the press that after Gongadze was murdered, a second group disinterred him and buried him where he was eventually found. The second group was allegedly part of or connected to the United Social Democratic Party of Ukraine and was trying to discredit President Kuchma and force early elections.

In September 2005, a government commission lead by Grygoriy Omelchenko unanimously recommended that Kuchma and two senior officials serving in his government at the time should face criminal charges in connection with the kidnapping of Gongadze.

The investigation surrounding Georgy Gongadze's murder has not yet been closed.

SOURCES: Agence France Presse; BBC News; The New York Times.

 

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