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Ukrainian Journalists Mark Anniversary Of Gongadze's Murder

Journalist Heorhiy Gongadze
Journalist Heorhiy Gongadze
KYIV -- Journalists and rights activists in Kyiv have marked the ninth anniversary of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze's abduction and killing, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

Gongadze was kidnapped on September 16, 2000. His decapitated body was found two months later.

The circumstances of his death became a national scandal and a focus for protests against the government of President Leonid Kuchma.

Last year, three former officials from the Interior Ministry's Foreign Surveillance Department and the Criminal Intelligence Unit were found guilty of Gongadze's murder and sentenced to long terms in jail.

Then, on July 22, former Ukrainian police official General Oleksiy Pukach was detained and allegedly confessed that he was directly involved in killing Gongadze.

Gongadze's relatives and their lawyers think he was killed because of his work as an investigative journalist.

The activists gathered near the main post office in Kyiv and read the names of all jouranlists in Ukraine who have been killed or are still missing.

Gongadze and the other colleagues were commemorated with nine minutes of silence, one for every year since Gongadze's death.

It was decided that no symbol or sign propagating or defining any political party should be present at the gathering.

Last week, Gongadze's mother, Lesya Gongadze, accused Ukrainian politicians of using her son's name in their political intrigues.

Earlier this month, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko told journalists that an investigation into Gongadze's murder and its results could affect the presidential election scheduled for January, implying that those who had ordered the killing were in high offices.