Yushchenko Gets Audio Recording Incriminating His Predecessor

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has received audio recordings incriminating his predecessor, Leonid Kuchma. Ten CDs containing 700 hours of recorded conversations, have been handed over, via a presidential agent, by Alexander Goldfarb, chair of the Civil Liberties Foundation, set up by the Russian media tycoon Boris Berezovsky.

Speaking Tuesday to the Novosti-Ukraina news agency, Goldfarb said the handover had been preceded by lengthy negotiations, with foundation officials trying to arrange it in such a way as not to be accused of meddling with Ukrainian politics again. The possibility of such accusations being brought against the Foundation seemed a likely one as the "political and legal potential" of the incriminating materials was quite high.

The recordings were made in Leonid Kuchma's office from November 1999 through September 2000. Only half of the recorded conversations have been transcribed by now, Goldfarb said. He would not reveal the name of the agent to whom the recordings had been handed over, identifying him only as a high-ranking Ukrainian government official. He said it was up to the Ukrainian side to decide when and how the details should be made public.

It was Major Nikolai Melnichenko, of the government's bodyguard service, who had been recording Kuchma's conversations with senior government officials and influential politicians. The recordings got into the spotlight after a Ukrainian journalist, Georgy Gongadze, had gone missing on September 16, 2000.

His body was found in the woods outside the capital, Kyiv, a month-and-a-half later. Suspicions were then raised that President Kuchma might be involved in a conspiracy to kill the investigative journalist.

Source: RIA Novosti