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Analysis Of Ukraine Gongadze Tapes 'Almost Complete'

Heorhiy Gongadze, 2000
Heorhiy Gongadze, 2000
KYIV -- Ukrainian authorities say they are close to completing their analysis of audio tapes that allegedly implicate a former president in the murder of a prominent independent journalist, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

Deputy Prosecutor-General Mykola Holomsha told journalists on August 31 that the final stage of the examination of the so-called Melnychenko tapes would be completed by October.

The tapes are named for Mykola Melnychenko, an ex-presidential bodyguard who says he secretly recorded conversations in the office of his ex-boss, former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma.

In them, a voice said to resemble Kuchma's is heard ordering top aides to deal with critical independent journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, whose headless body was found in a forest near Kyiv in 2000.

The authenticity of the tapes so far has not been verified. Holomsha said international experts would conduct their final checks on the tapes' authenticity next month.

Last week, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko told journalists that the investigations into Gongadze's murder and their results would affect the presidential election scheduled for January.