Ukrainian Prosecutor General Cancels Kuchma's Trip To Moscow

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian ex-president Leonid Kuchma said on Monday he would not be able to attend Moscow festivities on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Yury Gagarin's space flight because the Prosecutor General's Office has called him in for questioning.

Leonid Kuchma

Earlier in April, Kuchma, who is under a travel ban because of current investigations over the murder of a journalist, asked the Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office for permission to go to Moscow.

Ukrainian prosecutors in March opened a criminal case against Kuchma, president of Ukraine in 1994-2005, on suspicion of his involvement in Georgy Gongadze's murder.

"I was immediately served with a summons, which was created earlier, and said that tomorrow I will be called to the prosecutor's office at 11 a.m. again and that means I'm not allowed to come to Moscow," Kuchma said leaving the Prosecutor General's Office in Kiev.

Shortly after the journalist's decapitated body was found in a forest near Kiev in November 2000, Kuchma's former bodyguard released a tape, which he had allegedly recorded in the ex-president's office.

The tape allegedly features a conversation, in which a voice that sounds like Kuchma's speaks of a plan to kill the journalist.

Kuchma has denied any involvement.

"They are trying, as they say, to bring me to my knees or even lower, and I can't figure out today what the Prosecutor General's Office and the investigation authorities want from me, the truth or something else," Kuchma said.

In June 2008, three former employees of the Interior Ministry's criminal investigations department were found guilty of murdering Gongadze.

The officers said they killed the journalist on orders from the former head of the ministry's criminal investigations department, Lt. Gen. Oleksiy Pukach.

Pukach was arrested in the summer of 2009 and is now awaiting trial.

In September, prosecutors said Yuriy Kravchenko, interior minister in 2000, was also responsible for ordering the murder. Kravchenko purportedly committed suicide in 2005.

Source: RIA Novosti