The Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence at Case Western Reserve University will award Myroslava Gongadze, a journalist and free-press and human-rights advocate, with the 2023 Inamori Ethics Prize.
The Inamori Ethics Prize has been awarded since 2008 to honor outstanding international ethical leaders whose actions and influence have greatly improved the condition of humankind. Gongadze will receive the prize, deliver a free public lecture about her work and participate in an academic symposium and panel discussion during Inamori Center events Sept. 21-22 on the Case Western Reserve campus.
Taking an active interest in civic law and legal matters, Gongadze, who was born in Ukraine, attended the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv and earned a master’s degree in civic law. In the late 1990s, she collaborated with her husband and fellow journalist, Georgiy Gongadze, in publications opposing the administration of Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma. In 2000, soon after establishing the first—and now most popular—online publication in Ukraine, Ukrainian Truth, Georgiy Gongadze was kidnapped and murdered in a plot that directly implicated Kuchma’s administration.
Myroslava Gongadze’s vocal opposition to the authoritarian nature of the administration and the controversy resulting from this tragic crime were major catalysts to the Orange Revolution of 2004. As a result of this three-month protest, the rigged vote was declared void and new elections were held, which were judged to be free and fair by international observers.
Gongadze has continued to demand justice for her late husband and for justice and the role of law in Ukraine. In 2002, Gongadze filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights against President Leonid Kuchma's government, contending her husband’s death was the result of forced disappearance and that the Ukrainian authorities failed to protect him.
Gongadze also maintained that the atmosphere of fear and uncertainty and the incomplete and contradictory information provided during the investigation forced her to leave the country and caused her suffering. She won this case, and the European Court of Human Rights concluded that the domestic investigation was corrupt and violated international human rights laws. The case became a precedent and path for many Ukrainians who couldn’t find justice in their homeland.
Following her husband’s murder, Gongadze and their children received asylum in the United States in 2001. She has continued to demonstrate global ethical leadership in journalism as a television and radio correspondent for Voice of America (VOA) since 2004; a correspondent for Radio Free Europe; as well as a visiting Scholar at George Washington University and Fellow at Harvard University.
Since 2015, Gongadze, who now lives in Washington, D.C., but frequently travels to Europe, has been the head of Ukrainian Service at VOA, interviewing such critical political figures as U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and many other government and political world leaders. Before she joined VOA, it offered one 20-minute broadcast per week for the Ukrainian audience. Now, it features a live show daily and special in-depth reports. Today, VOA is widely considered the most trusted news in Ukraine, watched by 5 million viewers—roughly 10% of the Ukrainian population.
In 2022, VOA named Gongadze the network's first Eastern Europe Chief. She is now temporarily in Europe, leading expanded coverage of a region threatened by hybrid war and disinformation. Despite the danger of visiting an active war zone, she frequently visits Ukraine, covering the brutal Russian invasion of her native country.