Lawyers of Ukraine's second president (1994-2005) Leonid Kuchma, have sent a complaint to Pechersky Court of Kyiv against a decision by the prosecutor general dated March 1, 2005, about the closure of a criminal case against former officer of the State Security Guard of Ukraine, Major Mykola Melnychenko.
"Leonid Kuchma's lawyers, Serhiy Ulyanov and Viktor Petrunenko, are asking for this decision to be ruled illegal, and they demand its cancellation," reads the lawyers' statement, which was sent to Interfax-Ukraine.
"We believe that the resumption of criminal proceedings against Melnychenko is needed to establish the organizers of the illegal bugging [of Kuchma's office]. Without finding them, it is impossible to establish whether the recordings are faked and who really ordered the murder of journalist Georgy Gongadze.
The lawyers said they believe that "Melnychenko's actions were pre-planned, conducted secretly, lasted a long time and involved special technical equipment, and thus they cannot be recognized as actions taken in an emergency."
"The motive behind Melnychenko's actions was not to eliminate threats to the life of Georgy Gongadze. The facts indicate that he used the recordings as a means of blackmail and to discredit the government, as well as to make a profit," Kuchma's defense said.
The lawyers also argued that Melnychenko was selling his tapes "to different buyers, including foreign institutions and organizations."
"Melnychenko was guided only by his personal interests, including mercenary ones," the defense said.
The lawyers also said that that Melnychenko's leaking of state secrets, in particular publishing information about the alleged sale of Kolchuga electronic warfare systems by Ukraine to Iraq, seriously undermined the credibility and prestige of Ukraine.
According to the lawyers, closing the criminal case against Melnychenko was illegal also because not a single round of questioning of the former major had been conducted.
Journalist Georgy Gongadze went missing in Kyiv on September 16, 2000. A headless body that experts believed could be that of Gongadze was found in the forest in the Kyiv region in November 2000.
In November 2000, Melnychenko published audio recordings allegedly made in the office of President Leonid Kuchma. The recordings implicated Kuchma and several other high-ranking officials in putting pressure on journalists, parliamentary deputies and judges over Gongadze's murder and the sale of Kolchuga electronic warfare systems to Iraq. The allegation that then Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma personally sanctioned the sale of Kolchugas to Iraq caused a crisis in relations between Kyiv and Washington.
The United States granted political asylum to Melnychenko in April 2001.
A criminal case into the murder of journalist Georgy Gongadze was opened against Kuchma on March 21, 2011. Kuchma is charged with abuse of office and giving illegal orders to Interior Ministry officials, which lead to the killing of Gongadze. Melnychenko's tapes have been declared evidence in this case.
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