Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

I guess this means there won't be a Kuchma Presidential Library

By Aussiegirl

Why is this woman smiling?

It looks like Kuchma will not escape the wrath of crusading Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko as she looks into depriving Kuchma of a cushy set of retirement benefits, which include an exclusive dacha, 2 cars, cook, maid, generous monthly pension and other goodies. True to form, "Nasha Yulia" (our Yulia) as she is known, has included a review of Kuchma's retirement package as part of her general house cleaning -- or should we say stable cleaning -- when it comes to the mess left behind by the former corrupt government. Kuchma had once thrown Tymoshenko in prison on trumped up charges which have all since been dismissed as baseless. It's not nice to fool with Nasha Yulia.

According to a good article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, these are the least of his troubles. The matter of the murder of crusading journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, whose headless corpse turned up in a Kyiv suburb, is still hanging over his head as Gongadze's mother, the country's Interior Minister and others demand that prosecution proceed on the matter. Kuchma is widely believed to be behind the murder, and there are tapes made by a disgruntled body guard that seem to bear this out. The case is becoming a cause-celebre in Ukraine and Yushchenko may have little choice but to pursue the matter, even if his preference might be to let sleeping ex-Presidents lie.

. . . In secret tapes made by a former bodyguard, the president was overheard repeatedly complaining about Gongadze's reporting and ordering then-Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko to "drive him out, throw (him) out, give him to the Chechens."
Kuchma has denied the authenticity of the tapes, and insists he had nothing to do with Gongadze's abduction.

. . .The new interior minister, Yuriy Lyutsenko, was one of those who joined the street rallies in 2000 for Kuchma's impeachment over the journalist's killing. Heorhiy Omelchenko, one of Kuchma's most aggressive parliamentary foes, has formally requested the arrest of Kuchma. So far, the prosecutor's office has not responded.

If Kuchma isn't arrested, Omelchenko warns, he'll claim cover-up. "It'll mean there is a secret - and illegal - agreement ... that Kuchma can't be touched."

. . .Yushchenko, a Western-oriented reformer whose wife is American, has a reputation as a compromiser, but his anger at the former regime's attempts to discredit him runs deep. During a visit last week to Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, a region that overwhelmingly backed his rival, Yanukovych, the new president lashed out at officials who in 2003 decorated the city with cartoon posters depicting him dressed in a Nazi uniform.

Reminding the crowd that his father was imprisoned in Auschwitz, he asked: "Who ordered these posters? Who hung these up? ... I don't want to forgive this."

Still, those close to Kuchma insist he is not worried.
"He is optimistic," said son-in-law Pinchuk. "I think he's expecting a normal, full life as a member of the club of ex-presidents."
(Nice to know that Kuchma has not lost his legendary sunny disposition.)


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