Sept. 5, 2016
Joshua Yaffa wrote an article for the New Yorker on the promise, hope, and frustration of Maidan, and post-revolutionary Ukraine's incomplete process of reform, told from the perspective of two journalists-turned-politicians:
When Sergii Leshchenko was at university, in Ukraine, he dreamed of working in television news. He is the son of two Soviet-trained engineers, and grew up in Kiev, where he studied journalism. He aspired to become an on-air correspondent, but his speech was mumbly and imprecise. After an unsuccessful summer internship at a local news channel, in 2000, he heard that a new online publication, Ukrayinska Pravda, was desperately looking for reporters; in recent weeks, nearly all the staff had quit, fed up with low pay and worn down by pressure from authorities. His interview took place in a cramped and sparsely furnished three-room apartment, where he was met by the site’s founder and editor-in-chief, Georgiy Gongadze, a thirty-one-year-old reporter. Gongadze regularly received threats from Ukrainian officials because of his muckraking investigations. The power was out in the apartment, so Leshchenko and Gongadze sat in darkness. After a few minutes, Gongadze told him that he could start right away.
Two weeks after Leshchenko began work, Gongadze disappeared. “I thought maybe he wandered off somewhere, went on a bender,” Leshchenko recalled recently. “He could have met a girl, gone to L’viv, or maybe Georgia.” Two months later, Gongadze’s body was found in a forest outside Kiev. He had been decapitated, his body doused in chemicals and burned. Leshchenko had never expected journalism to be a deadly profession, but now that it was it didn’t seem right to do anything else. “There was no going back,” he said.