Leonid Kuchma   Letter 14   08-Feb-2001   The New York Times proclaims your crimes
"On the tape, Mr. Kuchma telephones Gov. Viktor F. Yanukovich of Donetsk and says the judge should be tortured." Patrick E. Tyler

      February 8, 2001

Leonid Kuchma, President
vul. Bankova, 7
Kyiv, 252005

Leonid Kuchma:

When George Soros installed you as President of Ukraine in 1994, you were given the opportunity of reviving Ukraine's economy as was being done in neighboring Poland and in the Czech Republic and in Hungary and you were given the opportunity of winning the Nobel Peace Prize for leading the first country in history to divest itself of a nuclear arsenal.  Instead, you installed in Kyiv a gang of bandits to help you rob the nation, and you immersed yourself in blood.  Now that the New York Times (see below) has told your story the beginning of it, anyway who in the world can you look in the eye who will not know you for what you are?

Below is a list of the sort of crimes concerning which a Ukrainian court of law will soon be asking you for clarification.  Any glance at the statistics suggests that this is an abbreviated list for example, the U.S. Department of State www.state.gov/www/global/human_rights/1997_hrp_report/ukraine.html reports for 1997 that "as of August there were 73 contract murders; in all of 1996 there were 157 contract murders."  Thus you might expect that once you are sitting in prison and the serious investigations into your past begin, the list below will grow a hundredfold:

  1. Volodymyr Ivasiuk, nationalist composer and poet, found hanging in a forest near Lviv 1979.

  2. Vadim Boyko, Member of Parliament, founder and host of the popular investigative television show Hart, killed in the fire that followed the explosion of his television set 1992.

  3. Mykhailo Boichyshyn, Member of Parliament and head of Rukh, the Popular Movement of Ukraine party, abducted from his office and never heard from again 1994.

  4. Maksym Tsarenko, twenty-year-old councillor at a summer camp for young girls conducted in Ukrainian in the Crimea where anti-Ukrainian sentiment runs high among some oligarchs, had his hands blown off removing a bomb that had been thrown into the girls' dormitory 1995.

  5. Igor Grouchetsky, freelance journalist known for his coverage of crime and corruption, had recently testified against the son of a high-ranking police official, found dead in Tcherkassy, southwest of Kyiv, from a severe head wound 1996.

  6. Pavlo Lazarenko, at the time prime minister, narrowly escaped a powerful bomb blast as he rode to the airport 1996.  True that Lazarenko was one of your fellow gangsters, but those responsible for detonating roadside bombs must be brought to justice even when the targets of their assassination attempts are fellow gangsters.  (By Western standards, replying to a bomb attack with a revenge assassination is not the same as bringing to justice it is adding a second crime to the first.)

  7. Yevhen Scherban, Rada deputy and business magnate, assassinated together with his wife.  This is a case that you along with Pavlo Lazarenko will be able to tell us a lot about 1996.

  8. Boris Derevyanko, editor of Vechernaya Odessa, critic of the corrupt Odessa Mayor Eduard Hurvits (today a deputy in the Ukrainian Parliament) who was coming up for re-election, shot dead in Odessa 1997.

  9. Petro Shevchenko, correspondent from Kiyevskiye Vedomosti, found hanging in an abandoned boiler room 1997.

  10. Volodymyr Katelnytsky, journalist and Deputy Head of the Ukrainian Christian Democratic Party, tortured to death along with his mother in his Kyiv apartment 1997.

  11. Vadym Hetman, first chairman of the National Bank of Ukraine and chairman of the Ukrainian Interbank Currency Exchange, considered a level-headed, elder statesmen of Ukrainian politics, was shot to death upon entering his apartment building 1998.  I reproduce a brief report of Hetman's assassination below.

  12. Oleksander Metrenko, Crimean broadcaster, killed 1998.  Mentioned on the Ukrainian Weekly web site at www.ukrweekly.com/Archive/1997/019704.html.

  13. Vyacheslav Chornovil, head of Rukh and presidential candidate, killed in a mysterious car accident 1999.

  14. Igor Bondar, head of television channel AMT, shot dead in Crimea along with judge Boris Vikhrov 1999.

  15. Boris Vikhrov, the Odessa court's presiding judge, shot dead in Crimea along with television journalist Igor Bondar 1999, as is mentioned on the International Press Institute's Death Watch 1999 web page at www.freemedia.at/d_watch.htm.

  16. Vassil Chudik, head of radio station Nezavisimost, found dead with his carotid artery severed by broken glass in a stairwell in Lviv 2000.

  17. Miroslava Mayorchuk, crime reporter and editor of independent television channel STB, found hanging in her Kyiv apartment 2000.

  18. Oleg Liachko, editor-in-chief of the weekly newspaper Svoboda, severly beaten by Odessa town council deputy Yuri Kulbachenko after citing Kulbachenko in his articles linking politicians, state security agents, and criminals.  Kulbachenko also threatened Liachko's life 2000.

  19. Heorhy Gongadze, hard-hitting editor of the online newspaper, Ukrainska Pravda (Ukrainian Truth), critical of government corruption, kidnapped, decapitated body discovered, MVS (Ministry of Internal Affairs) Major Mykola Melnychenko produced audiotapes of Leonid Kuchma yourself! planning Gongadze kidnapping 2000.

Lubomyr Prytulak

Ukrainian Weekly


Politics in Ukraine: the games continue


Hetman assassinated

Another politician, respected and admired more than most in Ukraine, first failed to get re-elected to the Verkhovna Rada in March and then lost his life to an assassin's bullet on April 22.  Vadym Hetman, the first chairman of the National Bank of Ukraine and the chairman of the Ukrainian Interbank Currency Exchange at the time of his death, who was considered a level-headed, elder statesmen of Ukrainian politics, was killed after he entered his apartment building.

The reason for his murder still has not been determined, nor have any arrests been made.  Ukrainian investigators contend that the killing was due either to his work on Interbank Currency Exchange board or to his private business dealings.

The assassination of Mr. Hetman not the first of its kind in Ukraine along with an ongoing problem with corruption, promoted the depiction of Ukraine as the wild, wild east of the post-Soviet era.  That image was further enhanced by a report by Transparency International, a non-governmental organization that fights corruption in the business sector, which ranked Ukraine as the 16th most corrupt country of the 85 countries it had studied.

Ukrainian Weekly, www.ukrweekly.com/Archive/1998/529812.html

New York Times

Thousands March in Kiev Over Political Crisis

MOSCOW, Feb. 6 Thousands of protesters waving Ukrainian flags and chanting, "Ukraine without Kuchma," streamed into Kiev today in a mostly peaceful protest march demanding the resignation of President Leonid D. Kuchma, who is struggling to overcome a deepening political crisis.

The crowd, estimated at 3,500 to 5,000, tried to break through a police cordon around the presidential administration building but was turned away, witnesses said.  Ukrainian television reported a number of scuffles among the protesters, the police and counterdemonstrators.

The crisis is being fueled by the continuing release of recordings of Mr. Kuchma's private conversations with senior aides and political figures in which his voice is heard ordering the abduction of a prominent journalist, threatening a judge and discussing how to protect the head of one of Ukraine's largest energy companies after he had reportedly "put a hundred million, at least" into his "pocket."

The demonstration today, as with those that blocked the center of the capital in December, signals a determined effort by opposition parties and their followers, many of them camped out in freezing temperatures.

Western officials and Ukrainian political experts said they were unable to predict the course of events in one of Europe's largest countries.  The United States and European states have made a major investment in Mr. Kuchma, a former manager of a Soviet missile factory, since he came to power nearly a decade ago.

Ukrainian television reported tonight that the protesters began streaming into the capital at 8 a.m. from across the country.  Some had marched for days from western cities, and they were joined by protesters in the capital who set up the tent city.  They have promised to stay until Mr. Kuchma resigns.

The event that set off the crisis was the disappearance in September of Georgy Gongadze, a journalist whose Internet news site, Ukrainskaya Pravda, is a frequent critic of the corruption that has plagued the country in Mr. Kuchma's two terms as president.  After Mr. Gongadze's headless body was found in November, an opposition leader, Oleksandr Moroz, produced the first recordings in which Mr. Kuchma's voice can be heard ordering Interior Minister Yuri Kravchenko to "get rid" of Mr. Gongadze.

A new batch of recordings was released last week that inflamed the controversy.  On one of those recordings, Prosecutor General Mikhailo Potebenko reports a problem with a legal case against Sergei Salov, a lawyer in the Donetsk region who worked for the opposition in the parliamentary elections in 1999.  Mr. Salov was charged with "spreading false information about the president" by handing out leaflets stating that Mr. Kuchma had died of excessive drinking.  The judge hearing the case ruled that the charge should be changed to an "insult" against the president and that Mr. Kuchma should be called to testify.

On the tape, Mr. Kuchma telephones Gov. Viktor F. Yanukovich of Donetsk and says the judge should be tortured.  It is not clear what action, if any, was taken against the judge.

In another recording, the head of the state tax administration, Mikhailo Azarov, reports that the chief of Naftohaz Ukrayiny, the state pipeline company, Igor Bakai, had been audited.  "At a minimum, you put in your pocket a hundred million, at least," Mr. Azarov recounts from his conversation with Mr. Bakai.  "I understand, of course, that I will not expose you.  I give you two weeks, a month at maximum.  Destroy all the papers."

Mr. Kuchma replies, "Good," and says he had spoken to Mr. Bakai, telling him that he could not expect to be protected forever.

Mr. Bakai resigned in the spring and is now a Parliament member.