Lawmaker Accused In Killing
A Ukrainian legislative commission investigating the kidnapping and beheading of a journalist five years ago has issued its findings, accusing parliament's speaker of instigating the killing.
Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn had "instigated the abduction" of Heorhiy Gongadze, said the commission, headed by Hrihoriy Omelchenko. Gongadze, an Internet journalist who wrote about high-level corruption, was kidnapped and killed in 2000.
The commission's findings stemmed from recordings in which voices resembling those of Lytvyn, former President Leonid Kuchma and other officials are heard allegedly conspiring against Gongadze, according to a report posted on a parliamentary Web site Wednesday.
Kuchma has repeatedly questioned the authenticity of the tapes, secretly recorded by his former bodyguard.
In the report, Omelchenko's commission said that the "authenticity of tapes has been verified'' and that all findings had been forwarded to prosecutors and the State Security service.
In an address to parliament Tuesday, Omelchenko also demanded Lytvyn's resignation and a no-confidence vote for Ukrainian Prosecutor General Svyatoslav Piskun, who according to the report, failed "to act in accordance with the commission's findings.''
Lytvyn dismissed the commission's report as "a provocation aimed at diverting attention from the real culprits'' for Gongadze's death.
The reporter's death sparked months of opposition protests against Kuchma's regime, which ultimately led to last year's Orange Revolution, which brought pro-Western politician Viktor Yushchenko to office.
The opposition accused Kuchma, who has faced questioning, and his allies of masterminding Gongadze's death, something he has repeatedly denied.
A month after Yushchenko's inauguration in January, prosecutors indicted three former policemen for Gongadze's death. A fourth suspect is at large and being sought on an international warrant.
Gongadze got into what he thought was a taxi, and then was joined by three others and driven outside Kiev, according to evidence given by the suspects.
The 31-year-old journalist was beaten and strangled, and his body was doused with gasoline and burned. Experts have said Gongadze was decapitated after his death.
The parliamentary commission also accused Kuchma and 16 of his allies and police officials, including former Interior Minister Yury Kravchenko and ex-head of Ukrainian State Security Leonid Derkach, of masterminding Gongadze's abduction and death.
Kravchenko, a key witness and reportedly the one given the order to deal with the journalist, committed suicide in March, hours before he was to be questioned about Gongadze's slaying.