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Ukraine25 September 2006

Gongadze trial hamstrung by prosecutor-general’s incompetence

Reporters Without Borders called for prosecutor-general Oleksandr Medvedenko to be replaced by an independent figure after Gongadze trial hearings on 14 and 20 September cast fresh doubt on the will of the Ukrainian justice system to resolve the case.

“His lack of determination to run this trial properly is doing serious harm to the investigation,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said on the sixth anniversary of Gongadze’s disappearance on 14 September, “The name of Géorgiy Gongadze has become a symbol for Ukraine of political change and freedom of expression.” It was announced that an ad hoc committee will be set up to monitor the progress of investigations.

The latest developments in the case contradict these optimistic statements, the organisation said. The impossibility of authenticating tapes made by ex president Leonid Kuchma’s then bodyguard Mykola Melnychenko, proving the implication of Kuchma and his interior minister Yuri Kravchenko, in the Gongadze murder, was preventing them being charged. “We do not unfortunately have the originals. Mykola Melnychenko has left Ukraine,” the prosecutor-general said.

According to information Reporters Without Borders has obtained, Medvedenko is being accused of trying to influence the outcome of the Gongadze case and of lying about the attitude of Melnychenko, who is reportedly willing to testify.

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