KYIV – Each year, on September 16, Ukrainians remember Heorhiy Gongadze, who was kidnapped and murdered on that date in 2000. The Georgian-born Ukrainian journalist founded one of the first online media outlets in the country, Ukrayinska Pravda. Twenty years after Gongadze’s murder, Ukrainian journalists and human rights activists continue to demand security for journalists and that those who ordered the murders of Ukrainian journalists be brought to justice.
On the occasion of the solemn anniversary, a memorial plaque to Gongadze was erected on the façade of the National Union of Journalists’ building in Kyiv. The unveiling of this commemorative plaque on September 16 marked the beginning of a week in memory of Ukrainian journalists who have died in the line of duty. The premiere of the film “Gongadze’s Murder. 20 Years in Search of Truth” also took place on September 16 on the Ukrainian public channel.
UNITED NATIONS – The first steps towards achieving peace in the Donbas should be the withdrawal of Russian forces from the occupied territories and the return of permanent control to Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, stated President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine in a video address to the participants of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 23.
“A comprehensive ceasefire began on July 27, which, despite attempts to break it, still gives hope for achieving a sustainable truce,” the Ukrainian president stressed.
KYIV – The inauguration of Alyaksandr Lukashenka does not mean he is recognized as the legitimate president of Belarus, said Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba.
“Ukraine has never in any way interfered in the internal affairs of Belarus and will always support the Belarusian people. Considering the course of the election campaign in Belarus and subsequent events, today’s ‘inauguration’ of Alexander Lukashenko does not mean his recognition as the legitimate head of the Belarusian state,” Mr. Kuleba wrote on Twitter on September 23.
The German government has announced that tests on blood samples taken from Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny showed the presence of a chemical nerve agent from the Novichok group.
The announcement conjured up memories of other Kremlin foes who have fallen victim to toxic attacks in the Vladimir Putin era and previously.
Earlier, German doctors treating the Kremlin critic had been less precise, saying that the specific poison that felled Mr. Navalny remained unknown but that they had determined poisoning by “cholinesterase inhibitors” – toxic substances that can be found in several drugs and pesticides and, more ominously, in deadly nerve agents such as Novichok, sarin and soman.
Ukraine is not yielding to Russia’s blackmail in the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) to resolve the conflict in the Donbas, but is looking for a balance for TCG meetings in Minsk, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on September 24 during an official visit to Slovakia. “Ukraine does not yield to blackmail. And everyone sees this today: both Europe and, by the way, Russia. But we are really finding a balance today for the meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk. Balance in a prudent policy and in dialogue in the TCG meeting mode, and in dialogue with the Russian Federation, the subject of the Minsk process, which, as I said, it is true – it is fragile, unstable. But we are doing everything to ensure that this dialogue goes on…” He added, “We all know the result of these meetings of Minsk or Normandy: a difficult ceasefire, a difficult regime of silence, but it exists.” Mr. Zelenskyy was speaking at a joint press conference with Slovak President Zuzana Caputova in Bratislava.
Russian President Vladimir Putin held a lengthy tête-à-tête with his Belarusian counterpart, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, on September 14, in Sochi – their first meeting since the outbreak of mass protests in Belarus against the flawed August 9 presidential election. Having mismanaged the election, used excessive force against protesters, and reverted to shrill anti-Western messaging (see Eurasia Daily Monitor, September 8, 10), Mr. Lukashenka turned to Russia for economic, political, advisory and security-sector support. He risks undoing his own work of nearly two decades to safeguard Belarus’s independence from Russia; and he is forfeiting his more recent successes at rapprochement with the West.
Two Senate Republican committees have released a report claiming that work done by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son in Ukraine created a “potential conflict of interest” that undermined U.S. policy.
The controversial report comes just weeks before November’s presidential election and with the elder Biden leading incumbent Republican President Donald Trump in most polls.
Released on September 23 by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, the report also alleges that Hunter Biden had dealings with Ukrainian, Russian, Kazakh and Chinese nationals of “questionable backgrounds,” including the wife of a former Moscow mayor.
OTTAWA – To celebrate Ukrainian Canadian Heritage Day, which is observed annually in the provinces of Ontario and Alberta on September 7, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress released the informative image above, which notes the Ukrainian population of Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories. The UCC also issued a statement on the occasion of the special day, which was published for the record in the September 13 issue of this newspaper. (It should be noted that the province of Manitoba celebrates Ukrainian Canadian Heritage Day on the last Saturday of July.) The UCC has reported that it is working with Canada’s parliamentarians on the establishment of a nationwide Ukrainian Canadian Heritage Month.
Twenty years have gone by since the killing of investigative journalist Heorhiy Gongadze in 2000. His death is commemorated in Ukraine annually on September 16.
The shock of his death, by torture and beheading, left a lasting legacy for Ukrainian journalists and human rights activists, as described by Roman Tymotsko on the front page of this issue of The Ukrainian Weekly, who “demand security for journalists and that those who ordered the murders of Ukrainian journalists be brought to justice.”
This year, a memorial plaque was installed at the National Union of Journalists building in Kyiv. The newly released film, “Gongadze’s Murder: 20 Years in Search of the Truth,” aims to raise awareness and to stoke public demand for justice for Gongadze and other journalists killed for doing their work to expose corruption, crimes and lies.
Thirty-five years ago, on September 29, 1985, The Ukrainian Weekly ran a series of statements and commentaries following the death on September 4, 1985, of 47-year-old Ukrainian poet Vasyl Stus, who was imprisoned by the Soviets for his poetry and other writings, as well as for his activism as a member of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group.
George Sajewycz, in a commentary published by The Washington Post, dated September 14, 1985, noted that Stus was “one of Ukraine’s most promising young poets.” Having died while in custody at the Perm-36 Soviet special-regime labor camp in the Ural Mountains, Stus’s fight for survival and impending death were preserved in the pages of his “Gulag Notebook” that was smuggled abroad. Mr. Sajewycz compared Stus to other notable fighters for human and national rights, including Andrei Sakharov, Anatoly Shcharansky and Bishop Desmond Tutu.