Former guard implicates parliament speaker in Gongadze murder

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Dec. 3, 2009, 11:27 a.m. | Ukraine — by Peter Byrne
Former presidential security guard Mykola Melnychenko has taken to the airwaves to announce that a group of audio experts have validated the authenticity of 18 excerpted conversations he recorded ten years ago in the president's office. “The expertise was necessary in order to introduce snippets of conversations between [former President Leonid] Kuchma and his chief of state [Volodymyr Lytvyn, currently Parliament Speaker] as evidence,” Melnychenko told Deutsche Welle news agency on Dec. 3.

Prosecutor General Oleksandr Medvedko said on Dec. 2 that a Ukrainian translation of the English-language original report would be ready on Dec. 7.

President Victor Yushchenko on Dec. 3 said the results of the expertise would be made public "imminently."

Melnychenko in November 2000 fled Ukraine after recording hundreds of hours of conversations in Kuchma’s office. Gongadze’s name was mentioned in about a dozen minutes-long snippets first released in parliament by Socialist Party Leader Oleksandr Moroz on Nov. 28, 2000. Melnychenko himself had days earlier fled Ukraine to Ostrava in the Czech Republic, where he left several bags containing dozens of CDs storing thousands of hours of digital recordings.

Kuchma and Lytvyn have for years denied any involvement in the abduction and decapitation of Gongadze. State prosecutors have been unable to identify those who ordered the killing.
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