Georgiy Gongadze - Career

Career

Born in Tbilisi, at the time the capital of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic of the Soviet Union, Gongadze was the son of a Georgian politician father and a Ukrainian nurse mother. He was educated at the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv in western Ukraine. His mother Lesya was born there and lives in Lviv now. He became a successful journalist, first in Georgia (where he reported on the conflict in Abkhazia) and then in Ukraine. He worked for the Kiev-based radio station Kontynent, on which he had his own show called First round with Heorhiy Gongadze. His strongly independent line soon attracted hostility from the increasingly authoritarian government of Leonid Kuchma; during the October 1999 presidential election, his commentaries prompted a call from Kuchma's headquarters to say "that he had been blacklisted to be dealt with after the election." Visiting New York in January 2000 with other Ukrainian journalists, he warned of "the strangulation of the freedom of speech and information in our state."

In April 2000, Gongadze co-founded a news website, Ukrayinska Pravda (Ukrainian Truth), as a means of sidestepping the government's increasing influence over the mainstream media. He observed that following the muzzling of a prominent pro-opposition newspaper after the election, "today there is practically no objective information available about Ukraine". The website specialized in political news and commentary, focusing particularly on President Kuchma, the country's wealthy "oligarchs" and the official media.

In June 2000, Gongadze wrote an open letter to Ukraine's chief prosecutor about harassment from the SBU, the Ukrainian secret police, directed towards himself and his Ukrayinska Pravda colleagues and apparently related to an investigation into a murder case in the southern port of Odessa. He complained that had been forced into hiding because of harassment from the secret police, that he said he and his family were being followed, that his staff were being harassed, and that the SBU were spreading a rumor that he was wanted on a murder charge.

Read more about this topic:  Georgiy Gongadze

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