Yushchenko Says Investigators Have Found More Evidence About Gongadze’s Death

KIEV, Ukraine -- Investigators have found more evidence in the death of journalist who crusaded against corruption during the tenure of Ukraine's former leader Leonid Kuchma, President Viktor Yushchenko said in comments televised May 29.

Yushchenko said investigators discovered "new and important evidence" about the death in 2000 of Georgy Gongadze, an Internet journalist whose headless body was found after he went missing nearly five years ago. He also claimed authorities were "closing in" on a suspect.

Kuchma's opponents have accused him of involvement in the slaying. Yushchenko, a former opposition leader who beat Kuchma's favored successor in a divisive election in the former Soviet republic last year, has said solving the case is a top priority for his government.

Yushchenko did not describe the evidence, but he and lawmaker Hrihoriy Omelchenko, a parliamentary deputy who has focused public attention on the killing, said they hope investigators will find the journalist's severed head soon.

Opponents of Kuchma have accused him of giving the orders that led to Gongadze's abduction and killing, which sparked months of protests. Kuchma has repeatedly denied any involvement.

A key witness, former Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko, committed suicide hours before he was to be questioned about Gongadze's slaying in March.

Also in March, two former police official were detained and charged with murder. Another former police official suspected of involvement remains under orders not to leave Kyiv, and a fourth, Oleksiy Pukach, is being sought on an international warrant.

"Before this case goes to the court we must arrest Pukach ... we're closing in," Yushchenko said in comment broadcast on television networks May 29.

Source: Kyiv Post