Ukraine President Kuchma Ordered Journalist’s Killing, Witness Testifies

KIEV, Ukraine -- A former senior Ukrainian police official accused of murdering journalist Georgiy Gongadze in 2000 admitted playing a role in the killing, Friday, and testified that it was then-President Leonid Kuchma who ordered the hit, the Kyiv Post reported.

Former President Leonid Kuchma

The decapitated body of Gongadze, a muckraking journalist whose website exposed corruption and repression in the Kuchma administration, was found along the road to the Kyiv airport months after he was kidnapped from his home in September 200. His head has never been found.

Kuchma has denied any involvement in the killing ever since a former presidential security officer, in hiding in Europe, announced he had tape recordings of the president talking about getting rid of the reporter.

The trial of Oleksiy Pukach, the former head of the Main Criminal Investigation Department at the Interior Ministry’s foreign surveillance unit, has been closed to journalists and the public, but a lawyer representing Gondaze’s widow told the paper that Pukach testified that Kuchma ordered the killing.

According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, former Gongadze colleague Oleksiy Podolsky said Pukach “clearly named former President Leonid Kuchma and former Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko as having ordered the murder.”

Ukraine prosecutors initiated an indictment of Kuchma, who was president from 1995 to 2004, on charges of abuse of power this past spring, alleging that the former president gave orders that led to the Gongadze’s killing.

Source: ABC News

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