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Last Updated: Friday, 4 March, 2005, 11:01 GMT
Ukraine media caution on Gongadze
File picture of journalist Georgiy Gongadze seen here with a gas mask in his hands in Kiev in the summer 2000
Georgiy Gongadze - murdered five years ago

Reports that Ukrainian former Interior Minister Yuri Kravchenko has been found dead at his home are the latest twist in the story that has gripped Ukraine's media this week.

Mr Kravchenko had been due to give evidence on Friday in the investigation in the case of journalist Georgiy Gongadze who was murdered five years ago.

The development comes after officials said investigators knew who ordered the murder, in comments which grabbed the TV and newspaper headlines in Ukraine.

Most of the media reaction is critical of the officials' comments, describing them as premature and misleading.

President Viktor Yushchenko broke the news on Tuesday, saying Mr Gongadze's murder had been solved. A day later, Prosecutor-General Svyatoslav Piskun's statements at a news conference that Mr Gongadze was strangled to death by police and two suspects had been detained led the main evening news programmes.

All channels covered the news conference and background to the story, with analysis and reaction.


ICTV, a channel linked to former president Leonid Kuchma's son-in-law Viktor Pinchuk, was among the most outspoken critics. The TV said the prosecutor produced "no sensational revelations" because the main question - who ordered the killing, and why - remained unanswered.

Private One Plus One TV led its main evening newscast on the story, including comment by former Prosecutor-General Viktor Shyshkin who warned President Yushchenko against making "over-hasty" remarks about the case.

The private pro-presidential TV 5 Kanal aired an interview with the murdered journalist's mother, Lesya Gongadze. She noted that while her son's decapitated body had been found, the head was still missing, so it was too early to say the murder had been solved.

"They can always find another fall-guy," she told the TV. "I will believe the case is solved only after the head and the murderer have been found."

The TV also interviewed two former prosecutors, who said Mr Piskun's statement that the killers had been identified would put pressure on the continuing investigation.

'Good intentions'

Ukrayinska Pravda, the popular news and analysis web site founded by Gongadze, carries a bitterly critical commentary on the whole five-year affair.

"The announcement that the Georgiy Gongadze murder case has finally been solved has brought a breathtaking and surreal mixture of joy, schadenfreude and sadness," journalist Vakhtanh Kipiani writes, " but why should we believe it? Enough. I have no more faith in the politicians' and prosecutors' good intentions."

Other commentators were also worried that the murder has been declared solved before the case has reached court.

"Why is the Ukrainian president, rather than the law-enforcement officers dealing with the case, commenting on investigative issues?" asked one commentator on the Glavred news site. "What are the terms of reference for the system the new authorities are building? Those of the supremacy of law, or political expediency?"

The press is equally sceptical of the reported breakthrough in the case.

"Without a doubt, President Yushchenko's statement that Georgiy Gongadze's killers have been arrested is a sensation," says the parliament's paper Holos Ukrayiny, "but it is premature, because no court has delivered a verdict yet."

The Segodnya tabloid, believed to be linked to a business group opposed to Mr Yushchenko, said two very important questions remained unanswered.

"Who gave the order, and why?"

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.


Country profile: Ukraine
02 Mar 05 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Ukraine
02 Mar 05 |  Country profiles

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