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Ukraine: Protestors Call For Kuchma To Step Down

Kyiv, 6 February 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Several thousand opposition supporters marched through Ukraine's capital Kyiv in a protest against corruption and to demand that President Leonid Kuchma step down. The protesters accuse Kuchma and other officials of involvement in the disappearance and probable death last year of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze -- a charge the government denies. Earlier, several hundred people are reported to have converged on a tent city which activists have been maintaining as a protest center in the capital since December.

One of the protestors, Heorhiy Komenda, a member of the Ukrainian Nationalist Party, told RFE/RL: "You have to understand that currently in our country there is a situation where anyone who displeases the regime can either disappear or -- accidentally -- be killed in a car crash."

A Ukrainian deputy prosecutor, Oleksiy Baganets, today called an alleged recording of Kuchma ordering actions Gongadze's "a fake" assembled from bits of conversation.

The protest, part of an ongoing campaign, is supported by both left-wing and right-wing opposition parties. The protestors say they are frustrated by government corruption because it has stalled economic growth and scared away many foreign investors.