Myroslava Gongadze, for UP, May 21, 2014
One hundred, two hundred, three hundred, a thousand … heroes who sacrificed their lives for the dignity, freedom and independence of Ukraine. For many, these are only numbers. We can recognize the faces of several of these heroes. Many others are erased from memory. Erased, but not for their loved ones.
For each family, for the parents, wives, children, friends who lost a father, a son, a husband, a friend, he was the only one, irreplaceable. For them, that wound will remain unhealed for as long as they live. But the task of the community is to preserve the memory of each hero.
Today, May 21, Heorhiy Gongadze would have turned 45. When the beatings and kidnappings began during Maidan, I relived that day, September 16, 2000, each time, all over again. I tried, to the best of my ability, to sound the alarm, hoping that the fate of each person would be better than the one that befell Heorhiy. Each time when people were found, mutilated but alive, I rejoiced at the lives saved.
When brave men began to die on Maidan, I could barely hold back my tears or maintain the emotional balance on the air that is required of journalists. Each time, with each new victim, the agony of losing another life doubled.
Today, if Heorhiy were alive, he would be on the front lines in Eastern Ukraine. During his short life, he faced the enemy repeatedly.
In 1992, he left Lviv for Tbilisi to help his father, Ruslan Gongadze, a former dissident, head of a political party and a member of the Georgian parliament — someone that Gamsakhurdia had listed as an “enemy of the people.” Then he returned and made a documentary — “My country’s anguish.”
When Russia undertook its scenario in Abkhazia, he was there again, this time to defend his country from Russian aggression. Few people realized then that the war in Abkhazia was not a struggle by Abkhazians for independence, but rather Kremlin’s attempt to grab a piece of the flourishing Georgia and bring a proud people to their knees.
This time he returned on the last plane from Sukhumi, after losing a lot of blood and with massive fragment wounds all over his body. The process of rehabilitation was difficult and long. But again, this time with my help, he made a documentary — “Shadows of War.”
The third time was the last. This time it was a war for freedom and justice in Ukraine. In this war, he met his death. But he left behind two wonderful children and his journalistic creation — Ukrainska Pravda.
For us, his family and friends, he was the only father, the only husband, the only friend, one who will be missed forever. But for society, he marked the beginning of the changes that would lead to the Revolution of Dignity.
If he were alive today, I am convinced he would be happy to see that the Ukrainian people, the people of his mother and ancestors have arisen, and, once again, he would repeat, as he once said on the radio, I am ready to give my life for Ukraine.
Translation: Anna Mostovych
Heorhiy Gongadze was a Georgian-Ukrainian investigative journalist who co-founded the news website Ukrainska Pravda (Ukrainian Truth) in April 2000, to provide objective political news and commentary during the presidency of President Leonid Kuchma. He disappeared on September 16, 2000, after receiving documents on corruption in the Kuchma administration. Gongadze’s decapitated body was found several months later. His murder provoked an international outcry and mass demonstrations in Kyiv. Although three former officials in the Interior Ministry were sentenced for the killing, no one has yet been charged with giving the order for the murder.