“Given the deterioration of press freedom in Ukraine, the climate of impunity surrounding attacks on journalists… we are extremely concerned for Mr. Klymentyev’s well-being,” Anthony Mills of the Vienna-based International Press Institute, said in a statement.
Vasyl Klymentyev, 67, editor of a small weekly in Ukraine’s northern city of Kharkiv that specialises in sensational corruption exposes, went missing earlier this month, according to media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders.
“We urge the authorities to do everything in their power to thoroughly investigate his disappearance,” said Mills, noting that police had suggested that “Klymentyev’s disappearance may have been linked to his work”.
Regional police said this week it had started a “premeditated murder” inquiry, a move that was welcomed by Dunja Mijatovic, media freedom representative for the European security body OSCE.
“This allows the investigators to use more efficient tools to search for the journalist. I hope that all these efforts will bring swift results,” she said.
She also greeted the decision by Ukraine’s president to personally oversee the inquiry.
“I welcome the personal attention of President Viktor Yanukovych in the investigation of this case, and his call for Ukrainian law enforcement to do everything possible to find Vasil Klymentyev.”
“I trust the Ukrainian authorities will conduct a swift and transparent investigation in the case of Klymentyev,” she added.
“Possible violence against journalists in reprisal for their work should be investigated by the authorities with full vigour not only to fulfil the country’s OSCE media freedom commitments, but to also publicly recognise the important role journalists play in a democratic society,” said Mijatovic.
Ukrainian journalists have repeatedly warned of deteriorating press freedoms, saying pressure on reporters has increased after Kremlin-friendly Yanukovych came to power in February. – Sapa-AFP