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    06 March 2021 Saturday

    Kuchma to face Gongadze questions

    Ukraine's ex-President Leonid Kuchma is to be questioned as part of the inquiry into the murder of journalist Georgiy Gongadze in 2000, prosecutors say.
    "He [Mr Kuchma] will be questioned as a witness," Vyacheslav Astapov, spokesman for the prosecutor general's office, told the BBC News website. Mr Astapov said the decision was taken by Deputy Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. He gave no further details.

    Mr Kuchma denies any involvement in the murder of the investigative journalist.

    The former president said last week he was willing to answer investigators' questions.

    Mr Kuchma's former interior minister was found dead on Friday at his country house outside the capital, Kiev.

    Yuri Kravchenko, who was due to testify in the Gongadze case, was reported to have left a suicide note that said he was a victim of political intrigues of Mr Kuchma and his circle.

    Political scandal

    Days earlier, Prosecutor General Svyatoslav Piskun said investigators knew who had ordered the journalist's killing. He did not give names. President Viktor Yushchenko has pledged to find out who abducted and killed Gongadze, who reported on high-profile corruption scandals.

    A proper investigation was among the main demands of the pro-Western opposition, which staged the "orange revolution" that brought Mr Yushchenko to power in January following disputed elections.

    The discovery of Gongadze's headless body in a wood near Kiev triggered a political scandal, especially after the emergence of a covertly recorded tape that allegedly implicated Mr Kuchma.

    In the tapes, Mr Kuchma was heard to complain about Gongadze's reporting and allegedly ordered Mr Kravchenko to "get rid of" the journalist.

    Mr Kuchma says the tapes have been edited to distort his words.

    According to Ukrainian law, the former president has no immunity against criminal prosecution.

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