Ukraine4 February 2005
Open letter to new prime minister Yulia Timoshenko
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Dear Prime Minister,
Reporters Without Borders would like to offer you its warmest congratulations on your recent nomination.
Our organisation nevertheless remains very concerned about the many press freedom violations in your country during 2004. Thirteen journalists were physically assaulted and four arrested, because of their work.
Reporters Without Borders asks you to consolidate the progress achieved by journalists during the "orange revolution".
In this regard, our organisation reminds you of the promises of President Viktor Yushchenko who wishes for a rapprochement between your country and the European Union. He told Kanal 5 on 29 December 2004 that he "wanted to sign an early bilateral agreement with journalists guaranteeing them government non-interference in newspapers’ editorial decisions". He added, "For me, freedom of the press is fundamental to the country’s development. If Ukraine has no impartial journalism it will have no place among democratic nations".
We also hope that you will quickly demonstrate your willingness to see that the case is finally cleared up of the abduction and murder of journalist Georgiy Gongadze, on 16 September 2000. Viktor Yushchenko had said after his poisoning "I hope that we will find the murderer of this journalist, even if we already know the reply : it was the authorities.
Reporters Without Borders has cast doubt on the quality of the investigation into this case. It seems to have been carried out with the main aim of protecting the government from the serious accusations levelled against it. The appointment of Sviatoslav Piskun to the post of Ukraine’s new Prosecutor-General on 9 December 2004 must be more than just window-dressing. We are waiting for the early opening of a fresh investigation, so that the responsibility for this journalist’s disappearance and murder can be established up to the highest level of the state.
I trust you will give our expectations your careful attention.
Reporters Without Boarders