This is moving issue along rather swiftly for legal matters in Ukraine. Never have I seen them move so swiftly.
A formal investigation into the former President is announced on Tuesday, on Wednesday he is questioned and on Thursday charged.
The Gongadze case may yet come to so form of “resolution” it seems…..one way or another……if the Statute of Limitations is waved by the courts…..or even if it isn’t.
The Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) of Ukraine has confirmed that charges have been brought against second Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma (1994-2005) on abuse of power that led to the death of journalist Georgy Gongadze.
“He has been charged under Article 166 of the Criminal Code of 1960,” PGO spokesman Yuriy Boichenko told Interfax-Ukraine.
Under Ukrainian law, the application of the provisions of the Criminal Code regarding the statute of limitation lies in the competence of the courts.
“It is within the court’s jurisdiction [whether or not] to apply the statute of limitations,” Boichenko said.
Article 166 of the Criminal Code of 1960 is entitled “The abuse of power or office.” Part 3 of this article stipulates that the abuse of power or office led to serious consequences. Violations of the article can result in imprisonment from five to 12 years, with no rights to holding public office.
Since the crime was committed before the entry into force of the new wording of the Criminal Code, the criminal proceedings were launched under Ukraine’s Criminal Code of 1960.
You have to wonder, if whilst they are at it, they will go after him for the “Kolchuga aircraft affair” in which there seems to certainly have enough evidence to start an investigation.
For those who may not be aware of this, it is alleged that then President Kuchma personally sanctioned the sale of Kolchuga aircraft to Iraq just prior to the toppling of Sadam Hussain.
The evidence, such as it is, relates to tape recordings given to the Americans by Mykola Melnychenko, which the US have stated are “genuine”…..one assumes they were subject to professional analysis at the time and this was not just another lever/ticked box/pressed button to be used in the pretext of what eventually became a long term military action in Iraq.
At the time, Mykola Melnychenko was a Presidential bodyguard from the Interior Ministry.
Such was the impact of these recordings at the time, that the US relations with Ukraine soured to the point that all US Aid was stopped.
This personal authorisation, if indeed true, may well be construed as abuse of office, particularly if it was in breach of any UN sanctions disregarding any financial and image loss with regards to the USA.
If he is investigated for it, then it may well prove to be the pre-cursor to the next chapter regarding the prosecution of the last administration. In not so dissimilar circumstances, the Yushenko/Tymoshenko administration was confronted by the USA in 2008 with photographic evidence of supplying tanks to Sudan, another UN “no-no” as there was an arms embargo at the time…..if the Wikileaks cable contents are true and not subject to “embellishment” by the US authors of the cable. A future blog post in the waiting I suspect.
One wonders whether the Kolchuga Affair will be tackled by the PGO at the same time they go after Kuchma for any involvement in the Gongadze case. The charges will be similar to those of Gongadze, same abuse of office, same 1960 laws, same court decision to apply any statute of limitations or not. If one will fly, then both can fly.
Given that the current RADA Speaker, Mr Lytvyn, was then President Kuchma’s right hand man, he must surely now be thinking he will be implicated and duly officially investigated for both the Gongadaze and Kolchuga Affair.
The sword of Damacles must be clearly visible to Mr Lytvyn today.