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Gongadze Hearings To Begin In Kyiv

Suspects Protasov and Kostenko during preliminary hearings in December (epa) 9 January 2006 -- Criminal hearings into the assassination of independent journalist Heorhiy Gongadze are expected to begin today in the Ukrainian capital.

Former Interior Ministry officials Valeriy Kostenko, Mykola Protasov, and Oleksandr Popovych -- who are key suspects in the case -- are due to appear before the Kyiv Appeals Court on murder charges.

Gongadze's mother Lesya has said that she will not attend the hearings because she no longer has faith in the Ukrainian justice system after the officers' preliminary hearing on 19 December.

But her lawyer, Andriy Fedur, told reporters he attaches great importance to today's court session.

"For me, it will be very important to see what kind of statements will be made and what kind of questions will be asked, whether the trial will be the same as it was on the 19th, when the prosecutor acted as the main defender of the accused, or whether it will finally consider the real subject," Fedur said. "So, for me personally, this will be a key court hearing."

Gongadze's beheaded body was discovered in a forest near Kyiv in late 2000. He had written frequently about high-level corruption.

Many in Ukraine suspect former President Leonid Kuchma and other top officials of orchestrating the killing. Kuchma denies the accusations.

(UNIAN/Ukrayinska pravda/ForUm)

The Melnychenko Tapes

The Melnychenko Tapes

The Melnychenko tapes, some of which were transcribed and published on the Internet, have never been officially recognized as genuine in Ukraine. On the contrary, the former government of President Leonid Kuchma has made many attempts to put their authenticity in doubt and suggest that they were doctored to compromise Kuchma and other top-ranking Ukrainian officials. Which is no surprise -- the Melnychenko tapes suggest that Kuchma might at least have inspired former Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko to abduct Georgian-born Heorhiy Gongadze, founder and editor in chief of the "Ukrayinska pravda" muckraking and investigative website in Ukraine, and "drive him out to Georgia" or hand him over to "the Chechens." Here we present translated excerpts from the tapes dealing with the Gongadze case....(more)