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KIEV, March 22 /TASS/. The body of Georgy Gongadze has been buried in Kiev 16 years after the Ukrainian journalist’s murder. The burial preceded by a funeral service took place at a cemetery of the Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker located on the embankment (Naberezhnye St. Nicholas Church), which belongs to the autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church, on Tuesday.
"The journalist’s body was interred at around 14:00 local time (15:00 Moscow time)," the Levyi Bereg (the Left Bank) publication said.
Gongadze’s body had been kept at Kiev’s central morgue since 2000.
Georgy Gongadze, the founder and the first editor-in-chief of the Ukrayinska Pravda Internet publication, went missing in autumn 2000. The journalist’s decapitated body was found in the forest near Kiev 6 weeks after his mysterious disappearance.
Gongadze’s murder is closely linked to the Cassette Scandal, which erupted in November 2000 when the Socialist Party leader, Alexander Moroz, said he had selected recordings of conversations proving the country’s top leadership was involved in Gongadze’s abduction at his disposal. The recordings were made by Major Nikolay Mikhalchenko, the presidential security service employee.
Alexey Pukach, the former head of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry foreign intelligence department, was accused of killing Gongadze. Pukach, who was detained on July 22, 2009, pleaded not guilty. A Kiev district court sentenced him for life on January 29, 2013. Ukraine’s former interior minister Yuri Kravchenko, believed to be the murder’s contractor, was killed at his home in 2005.
Earlier, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko handed over the "Star of Hero" Order to Gongadze’s widow Miroslava. Poroshenko noted Gongadze’s enormous contribution to the development of independent Ukraine, to the struggle for freedom of speech and the development of independent Ukrainian media.
Ukraine’s former President Viktor Yushchenko posthumously awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine to journalist Georgy Gongadze on August 23, 2005.