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Profile: Yuriy Kravchenko

Former Ukrainian Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko was found dead in his country home on 4 March, just hours before he was to appear before prosecutors for questioning related to his possible involvement in the death of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze in September 2000.

Kravchenko was regarded as a key figure in the Gongadze case and was implicated in the killing based on tapes purportedly containing private conversations with then-President Leonid Kuchma.

The Interior Ministry's public-relations department told ITAR-TASS on 4 March that a forensic examination will be conducted to "find out whether it was a murder or suicide."

Inna Kisel, a spokeswoman for newly appointed Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko, said Kravchenko's death appeared to be suicide.

ITAR-TASS cited an unidentified source participating in the investigation into the death as saying Kravchenko took his own life at 8:45 a.m. local time. Kravchenko was to appear at the Prosecutor-General's Office for questioning at 10 a.m.

"Yet, this is merely a version," the news agency quoted the source as saying.

Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Svyatoslav Piskun announced at a 2 March news conference on developments in the Gongadze murder case that Kravchenko had been summoned for questioning.

Audio recordings purportedly made in Kuchma's office by a member of the presidential security detail, Mykola Melnychenko, contain conversations in which a voice alleged to be Kravchenko's is heard discussing Gongadze.

Hryhoriy Omelchenko, a member of parliament's commission investigating Gongadze's killing, told the media on 3 March that Kravchenko and former President Leonid Kuchma should be arrested immediately.

Omelchenko also said he was fearful that Kravchenko might take his own life, as he was under extreme pressure.

Kravchenko was appointed interior minister by then-President Kuchma on 3 July 1995.

Kuchma removed Kravchenko from leadership of the Interior Ministry on 27 March 2001 and eventually appointed him head of the Ukrainian Tax Administration.

Kravchenko, born on 5 March 1951 in Ukraine's Kirovohrad Oblast, is survived by his wife and two daughters.

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