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You're reading: Leonid Kuchma tells it like it is

In his book, Kuchma barely touches the contentious issues surrounding his presidency, such as massive high level corruption and the murder of journalist Georgi Gongadze. He continues to claim the Kuchmagate scandal was a Western (i.e. US) backed conspiracy to replace him with Yushchenko, which he believes came to fruition in 2004 (p. 684).

Kuchma claims that by the last year of his presidency, relations between business and politics had become “normal.” Capital that previously fled abroad had begun to return and work for the Ukrainian economy, and big business had begun to pay taxes and desire a transparent and stable system (pp. 192-193). He replies to the accusation of building an “oligarch country” by claiming that “another type of regime, other than the nomenklatura-oligarch system, could not have come into existence” in the 1990s (p. 221). “Ukraine is not the Baltics. It did not feel itself to be occupied territory or a colony. There were still strong pro-Soviet feelings” in 1991, Kuchma pointed out (p. 291), meaning the pro-Western opposition could not have won the presidential elections.

Besides serving as a defense to the criticisms leveled against Kuchma’s presidency, the memoirs reveal the ideological differences between Kuchma and his successors, Presidents Viktor Yushchenko and Viktor Yanukovych.

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