Ultima Thule

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

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Kuchma returns to Kyiv

By Aussiegirl

The Guardian today has some additional facts on the fallout from Interior Minister Kravchenko's suicide yesterday. President Kuchma has returned to Kyiv from Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic. Below are the new tidbits gleaned from this latest article:

The former president, who has been linked by opponents to the journalist's slaying, made no comments in the Kiev airport upon returning from a Czech Republic spa. But before departing the Czech Republic, Kuchma said he was prepared to talk to prosecutors, Czech and Ukrainian television reported.

. . . Ukrainian television network Inter said Kuchma told reporters he did not believe Kravchenko had ordered Gongadze's killing. He was quoted as saying the former interior minister was under ``crazy pressure, partly from the media."

. . . Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko said Kravchenko left a note saying he had ``become a victim of the intrigues of (ex-)President Leonid Kuchma and his entourage."

Lutsenko cited Kravchenko's note as saying: ``I am guilty of nothing. Forgive me ... I am leaving you with a clean conscience."

. . . State security chief Turchinov told the private 1+1 TV channel that ``the testimony of the former president ... appears extremely important for the resolution of the case."
He added that Kravchenko's note ``adds pretty much to the investigation."

``This note touches on concrete people who are also suspected in the (Gongadze) case, and gives the investigation the possibility to foresee the further direction of the probe," Turchinov told the station.

He said Kravchenko had shot himself twice at his summer residence in Kiev's elite Koncha Zaspa suburb.

Kravchenko's first shot inflicted only a superficial wound in his neck, but ``he was a strong man and he managed to shoot himself again through the right temple," Turchinov said.

The allegations against Kuchma were based on recordings that a former presidential bodyguard, Mykola Melnichenko, said were made secretly in the president's office.
In the tapes, Kuchma was overheard complaining repeatedly about Gongadze's reporting and ordering Kravchenko to ``drive him out, throw (him) out, give him to the Chechens."

Melnichenko said Friday that ``Kravchenko's death only plays into Kuchma's hands.
``Fewer and fewer witnesses remain," Melnichenko said by telephone from London. Kuchma has disputed the tapes authenticity.

The journalist's widow, Myroslava Gongadze, suggested Kravchenko's death was part of a cover-up attempt, saying there were ``too many people from the old regime who would try to conceal the true course of events.
``Kravchenko was a key link in the chain of the crime, she said by telephone from the United States, where she now lives.

. . .Svyatoslav Piskun said investigators had identified all four suspects in Gongadze's killing - including two currently in custody - and knew who the mastermind was. He refused to reveal that person's identity.


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