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Today, 20th anniversary of Georgy Gongadze's disappearance

16.09.2020, 13:17

Today, September 16, marks the 20th anniversary of the murder of journalist and founder Ukrayinska Pravda Georgy Gongadze.

He was last seen on September 16, 2000, on Lesia Ukrainka Boulevard in Kyiv, as he got into a car. The next day, in the evening, the mass media made public the report saying Georgiy Gongzde had gone missing.

Georgy Gongadze (1969–2000) was a journalist, founder and first editor-in-chief of the Ukrainian Pravda online publication. He was born in Tbilisi. He has been сoming to Ukraine since the late 1980s as a representative of the press service of the Popular Front of Georgia. The journalist worked for the Lviv branch of the Narodnyy Rukh (People's Movement), and after the collapse of the USSR he collaborated with a number of Ukrainian media.

In April 2000, Gongadze founded the online publication Ukrayinska Pravda. And six months later, on September 16, the journalist went missing.

On November 2, 2000, a body was found in the Tarashchansky Forest, 70 km from Kyiv, in which friends and relatives recognized the journalist. Most subsequent examinations confirmed that the body was Gongadze's one. However, it was not until February 2001 that the Prosecutor General's Office acknowledged the journalist's death and opened a case under the article "Intentional Murder", and in September 2002 it acknowledged that the body found in the Tarashchansky Forest was the body of Gongadze.

In 2009, the remains of a skull belonging to a missing journalist were found in the Kyiv region. However, Georgy Gongadze's mother did not believe until the last moment that the found remains belonged to her son, so he was buried only on March 22, 2016.

The disappearance and assassination of Georgy Gongadze caused a wide public response both in Ukraine and abroad. In Ukraine, large-scale protests, known as "Ukraine without Kuchma", began with protests against Gongadze's disappearance and assassination, during which protesters accused the then president and his inner circle of murder of the journalist and demanded the resignation of the head of state.

Almost eight years after the journalist's disappearance, on March 15, 2008, the Kyiv Court of Appeals found guilty three former employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs' External Surveillance Department - Valery Kostenko, Oleksandr Popovych and Mykola Protasov of Gongadze murder and sentenced them to 12 to 13 years in prison.

One of Georgy's abductors, Mykola Protasov, died in the colony in late March 2015. 

On January 29, 2013, the Pechersk District Court of Kyiv sentenced Oleksiy Pukach to life imprisonment for the murder of Gongadze. Pukach's defense appealed the court's decision. 

On December 6, 2016, the Kyiv Court of Appeals upheld the sentence of life imprisonment for Oleksiy Pukach. 

However, the point in this high-profile case has not yet been set : not only the perpetrators of the journalist's murder remain unpunished, but also the instigators have been unnamed.

Georgy Gongadze was posthumously awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine. A monument was erected in December 2008 to Gongadze in Kyiv, as well as to journalists who died in the line of duty. The avenue in Kyiv and streets in other cities of Ukraine were named after Gongadze. In addition, his name was engraved on a glass wall in the Memorial Hall of the Perished Journalists at the Washington Museum of News, Newseum.

In 2019, the Ukrainian PEN Club together with the Alumni Association of the Kyiv-Mohyla Business School and the Ukrainian Pravda set up the Georgy Gongadze Journalism Award.

As IMI reported, on September 16, at 9:40 p.m., the first run of the documentary “Murder of Gongadze. 20 years in search of the truth” is going to be aired by the “UA:Pershyy”. On September 17 at 19:30 this film will be aired in Mariinsky Park on the summer stage "Mushlya" near "Dynamo" stadium.

A memorial plaque dedicated to journalist Georgy Gongadze will be unveiled in Kyiv on September 16 .

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