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Fear Said Dominating Press In Ukraine

(Washington, DC--July 5, 2001) The widow of murdered Ukrainian journalist Heorhiy Honhadze told a RFE/RL audience last week that the authorities in Kyiv have created a climate of fear that is leading ever more journalists to censor themselves.

Myroslava Honhadze, a former employee of Internews, said that "in the past, external censorship prevented a free press in Ukraine", but today, "the most serious problem is that of self-censorship" because of fear, inspired at least by the failure of the authorities to investigate actions like her husband's murder.

Honhadze's husband, who had been a persistent critic of the Ukrainian political elite, including President Leonid Kuchma, disappeared last September in Ukraine, and a headless corpse subsequently identified as Honhadze's was found a few weeks later.

Mrs. Honhadze rejected the claims of the Ukrainian presidential administration that everything had been done to find Heorhiy Honhadze's killer. "I demand a fair investigation because not just a journalist has been killed, but freedom of the press, freedom of expression has been killed as well," said Mrs. Honhadze, adding that "there cannot be any progress in [Ukrainian] society" without a fair investigation.

In other comments, Mrs. Honhadze called on Western governments to establish an international commission to investigate her husband's case, and encouraged Western journalists to come to Ukraine in hopes that they will be able to break through the climate of fear and intimidation in Ukraine.

This week, Mrs. Honhadze will accept an award on behalf of her late husband from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe meeting in Paris. The award recognizes the work of the murdered journalist in fighting for the right of Ukraine's citizens to information and freedom of expression.