“Dying for Truth: Journalists’ Safety vs. the Political Environment” is a series of investigative stories looking into criminal investigations of the murders of journalists in Ukraine. The project is led by Veronika Melkozerova, a Ukrainian journalist, and supported by the Justice for Journalists foundation.
Of more than 70 known killings of journalists in Ukraine from 1991 till 2019, practically none have been fully solved by the police. Officially, the investigations into both the oldest and the most recent cases — such as Georgy Gongadze’s murder in 2000, the slaying of Oles Buzina and six other journalists in 2015, or Pavel Sheremet’s assassination in 2016 — remain “ongoing.” However, as the UN and Human Rights Watch have pointed out, the Ukrainian government makes precious little effort to push the investigation forward.
In 2016, Freedom House argued that Ukraine is one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists, and, although the situation has improved significantly since 2014, there are still numerous, frequent attacks on Ukrainian journalists. Online sources cite different numbers of journalists killed in Ukraine since independence: Wikipedia says 70, while the “Committee to Protect Journalists” reports 19. In 2017 and 2018, 80 and 30 journalists were attacked, respectively. Most local news channels and media outlets, including the Kyiv Post, have covered these attacks and murders. However, the coverage almost always falls short when it comes to identifying common links between the crimes and deeper analysis of the situation. In 2016, Kyiv Post journalist Isobel Koshiw [in her article “From the archives: Journalists killed in Ukraine since Independence”] provided a short summary of journalists’ murders. Building on that foundation, the goal of this project to study how the political environment led to and later ignored the attacks on and murders of journalists.
Following the change of political power in Ukraine in 2019, it is important to remind both the public and politicians that the murders are not forgotten and media are still pushing for justice. As the leading English-language newspaper in Ukraine, the Kyiv Post is the ideal platform to advocate for further investigation. By creating an interactive timeline that combines a series of stories and retrospective analysis of the socio-political factors at the time of these attacks, we aim to commemorate the journalists murdered in Ukraine and contribute to a safer environment for journalists in Ukraine. The full stories are available at the Justice for Journalists Foundation and the Kyiv Post’s website.
This reporting is possible thanks to the in-kind support of the Justice for Journalists Foundation. In order to be able to continue the project after December 2019 and create an interactive timeline, the Free Press Foundation is seeking further co-funding. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you are willing to support this project or use the “Donate” button to make a donation. We are grateful for your support.