10 January 2006 -- An international media watchdog called on Russia today to step up efforts to solve the disappearance of an investigative reporter who went missing in St. Petersburg in June 2004.
The Committee to Protect Journalists said the investigation into Maksim Maksimov's disappearance has stalled and prosecutors in Russia's Northwestern Federal District are giving no information as to how the probe has developed.
The committee said Maksimov, a reporter for the weekly magazine “Gorod,” was last seen going to meet a source in St. Petersburg on 29 June 2004 and his car was found at a local hotel a month later.
Russian media have said that Maksimov was looking into possible corruption in the regional branch of the Interior Ministry.
Heorhiy Gongadze was neither the first nor the last journalist to be killed in Ukraine, but it is his death that has become synonymous with the pressure exerted on journalists by the administration of former President Leonid Kuchma. Within weeks of his death, secretly recorded tapes emerged that implicated Kuchma in Gongadze's death. Kuchma has always denied any involvement, but the twists and turns of the protracted investigation -- and its failure to produce results -- merely fueled the speculation. The demonstrations triggered by Gongadze's death galvanized opposition to the Kuchma administration.
President Viktor Yushchenko, prime minister at the time of Gongadze's death and leader of the Orange Revolution, has said that resolving the Gongadze case is a "matter of honor." The journalist's alleged killers are now on trial in Kyiv. But a trail of deaths, including one since the Orange Revolution, raise doubts about whether it will ever be certain who ordered Gongadze's murder.
For a timeline of the Gongadze case, click