Former guard accuses parliament speaker of Gongadze murder

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Dec. 8, 2009, 12:34 p.m. | Ukraine — by Staff reports

Former presidential security guard Mykola Melnychenko on Dec. 6 accused Parliament Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn of ordering the murder of journalist Georgiy Gongadze.

Mykola Melnychenko, who fled Ukraine in November 2000 with hundreds of hours of recorded conversations from former President Leonid Kuchma's office, on Dec. 6 said that current Parliament Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn ordered the murder of journalist Georgiy Gongadze in 2000. "Yes. I can name the person who ordered the crime," Melnychenko said during the broadcast of a political talk show aired on State National Television [UT-1].

"The individual who ordered Gongadze's murder is Volodymyr Lytvyn, who was [former President Leonid] Kuchma's chief of staff."

Melnychenko offered no proof to back up the claim.

Olha Chorna, a spokesperson for Lytvyn, dismissed the claims as part of the election campaign. “It’s ridiculous. It’s not the first time he’s brought this up. Melnychenko has learnt to make money from these accusations,” she said.

She accused Melnychenko of working for Lytvyn’s opponents in order to push down his rating. A survey at the end of November by the FOM-Ukraine pollster put Lytvyn’s support at 2.5 percent.

Gongadze disappeared on Sept. 20, 2000 in Kyiv. His decapitated remains were found in November outside Kyiv. The 10-year investigation of who ordered murder accelerated this summer after the capture of Oleksiy Pukach, a police general who allegedly carried out the killing. Pukach is currently being held in police custody.

Ukraine's General Prosecutor's Office last week reported receiving an expert analysis of recorded snippets in which Gongadze was mentioned.
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