Leonid Kuchma   Letter 15   23-Feb-2001   Beyond evil — stupid
“I am ready to swear, on the Constitution or the Bible, that I would never give an order to destroy a person.” — Leonid Kuchma

      February 23, 2001

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

Leonid Kuchma:

Your talk of swearing your innocence on the Constitution or the Bible is laughable.  The world knows that any murderer or gangster can do that.

What the world pays attention to in your conduct is not empty words, but rather signs of guilt, such as your not tolerating a free press, and your security service terrorizing those who are investigating Gongadze's murder.

Your infantile talk of swearing on the Constitution or the Bible makes the world recognize that you are not just evil, you are also stupid.

Lubomyr Prytulak

External link to The Times home page

Ukraine rebel on run in Britain


A UKRAINIAN former opposition MP who smuggled out proof that a charred and headless corpse was a journalist murdered on the apparent orders of President Kuchma has applied for asylum in Britain.

Valeri Ivasyuk fled to Britain last month and applied for asylum on February 16 after telling police that he feared security agents from the Ukrainian Embassy would try to force him to go home.  He is in hiding, staying with British friends, but talked to The Times yesterday.

Mr Ivasyuk, an expert with the parliamentary commission investigating the murder of Georgi Gongadze, sent out DNA samples from the corpse and from previous hospital records for independent analysis in Germany. Ukrainian officials were subsequently forced to confirm that the corpse was the missing journalist, but Mr Kuchma has denied the authenticity of a tape recording in which he is heard ordering the man’s kidnap and murder.

Mr Ivasyuk, 42, a leading member of the opposition Rukh party and former head of a parliamentary commission to combat drugs and Aids, accused the Kuchma Government of a cover-up.  Last month he was called in by the Ukrainian Security Service, which questioned him for four hours on a customs accusation over the import of Aids testing equipment in 1995.  He said the reason was to intimidate him.

“I used to know what Stalinism was in theory. Now I understand it in practice.”  He was warned that his life was in danger. With a multiple-entry visa, he fled to Britain on January 21 but was forced to leave his wife and two children behind.

Mr Ivasyuk’s evidence was crucial in exposing official involvement in the cover-up of the murder.  He was present when the local coroner, Igor Vorotinsov, established that the corpse, discovered in a forest near Tarashche in October, had been dead no longer than two months.  The Interior Ministryclaimed it was more than a year old.  The coroner was immediately dismissed.

Mr Ivasyuk said attempts had been made to kill him before.  “They put out contracts on my life in 1992, 1993 and 1994.  Things got more difficult when the activity over Gongadze was at its peak.  After I criticised the authorities, the President decided to ‘neutralise’ me.  I was summoned to the Security Service.”

The discovery of a secret tape in which Mr Kuchma was heard discussing the kidnap or murder of the opposition journalist has caused uproar in Ukraine.  Huge demonstrations have been held in Kiev calling on him to resign.  Mr Kuchma says he will not step down.  He said he had been elected by 16 million people: “I am ready to swear, on the Constitution or the Bible, that I would never give an order to destroy a person.”

The Home Office said last night it will consider “on its merits” Mr Ivasyuk’s asylum application.

Copyright 2001 Times Newspapers Ltd.
The Times, www.thetimes.co.uk/article/0,,2-89776,00.html