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Ukraine: Parliament Orders Investigation Of President

Kyiv, 5 March 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Ukraine's parliament today ordered an investigation into possible criminal acts carried out by President Leonid Kuchma. Interfax news agency reports that Prosecutor-General Mykhaylo Potebenko has been ordered to determine whether Kuchma is guilty of abusing his office, fixing elections, conspiring to intimidate and kill political opponents, and graft.

Supporters of the bill said audio recordings made in Kuchma's office and made public last year suggest Kuchma may be guilty of impeachable activities.

Presidential opponents claim the tapes prove Kuchma participated in the kidnapping of opposition journalist Heorhiy Gondadze, who has been missing since September 2000. In January, U.S. forensic experts said the tapes are authentic.

Pro-Kuchma deputies have in the past months fended off repeated opposition bids to open impeachment proceedings against Kuchma, in part because of questions surrounding the tapes' authenticity.