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Ukrainian President Says Murder Investigation Will Impact Election

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko
KYIV -- Ukraine's president says finding those who ordered the killing of prominent independent journalist Heorhiy Gongadze is a crucial issue for the whole society, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

Talking to journalists on August 28, Viktor Yushchenko said that finding and punishing all of those who organized the killing of Gongadze would show that "the law in this country is equal for everyone."

He added that those who ordered the murder are still sitting in "big armchairs," and that therefore he, as president, is under "huge political pressure."

He also said that the investigations of the case and their results would influence the presidential election scheduled for January next year.

Gongadze, a co-founder of online "Ukrayinska Pravda" news resource, was abducted in September 2000. Two months later his decapitated body was found in Kyiv Oblast.

On March 4, 2005, former Interior Minister Yury Kravchenko was found dead with gunshots to the head just hours before his testimony as a witness in the case.

Three former officials of Ukraine's Interior Ministry were found guilty of involvement in Gongadze's murder and sentenced to long prison terms in March 2008.

A fourth former top official of the Ukrainian police, General Oleksiy Pukach was arrested on July 22 this year as a suspect in the murder. He has given investigators a location where Gongadze's severed head might be.

Forensics experts in Ukraine confirmed on August 27 that the fragments of a human skull found at the site are the remains of Gongadze.

Gongadze's widow Myroslava Gongadze believes that the masterminds of her husband's assassination are still at large.