Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Revelations, Scepticism and Conspiracies - The stuff that Hollywood dramas are made from.

Extraordinary revelations about Ukraine's highest political assignation has dominated Ukraine with the news of the arrest of former General-Lieutenant Oleksiy Pukach, who was detained for his involvement in journalist Gregory Gongadze's murder yesterday.

Oleksiy Pukach is reported as having lived in Ukraine since he was put in the wanted list and has avoid capture until now.

It is also claimed that he has confessed to his involvement in murder and knows the location of Gongadze's missing decapitated head and has named names of those involved.

This is indeed good news for Ukraine if the reports are true and it does deliver justice and brings those involved in Gongadze's assignation to account

News of Pukach arrest has been met with scepticism by Gongadze's wife who has been campaigning to have her husbands killers and those who ordered the assignation brought to justice. Gongadze's murder goes right to the top with allegations of involvement of Ukraine's former President, Leonard Kuchma and a cover-up conspiracy involving Ukraine's incumbent President Viktor Yushchenko.

Myroslava Gongadze is certain that the order to kill her husband didn’t come from Pukach. But he may be the key link in solving the mystery of who did. “To name those who ordered the murder is one thing, but to gather evidence and charge them is another matter,” she said. “I want to stress that Pukach is only a link in the chain of murderers. The question is open about who ordered it and if there would be enough political will to bring charges against them.”

“I had almost lost hope that he would ever be caught,” she said. “Whether it’s connected to a political campaign, I am not sure. But in the course of eight years, Georgiy’s murder became a political case. A lot of political forces and leaders fight for it, whether they are interested in its outcome or not. That’s why the timing is not that important to me. What’s important is that the case is still open and that there will be more revelations.”

This is the stuff of Hollywood crime mysteries, spies and government conspiracies. It is hard to believe that MI5 could make such a stuff up in the investigations.

Ukraine's embattled President, Viktor Yushchenko, was quick to be seen associated with the arrest and the possibility of Gongadze's killers bought to account. (If only the same could be achieved for those involved in the allegations of Yushchenko's poisoning five years ago - allegations that have not been tested in a court of law)

The test and challenge will be keeping Pukach alive so that his testimony can be recorded and tried in open court. The last thing Ukraine needs is it's own version of Lee Harvey Oswald.

Timeline of Georgiy Gongadze case
Source Kyiv Post

A timeline that starts before Gongadze’s disappearance, highlights individuals at the center of the investigation and shows how investigators have failed to solve the vicious murder.

July-August 2000 Georgiy Gongadze, founder and editor of the Ukrainska Pravda website, told a Kyiv Post reporter that he was being persecuted for his hard-hitting journalism. He complained to many people that he was being followed and harassed by the authorities, and that he feared for his life.

Sept. 16, 2000 Gongadze kidnapped on his way home.

Sept. 17, 2000 Criminal case launched into his disappearance.

Nov. 2, 2000 Gongadze’s beheaded corpse found about 100 kilometers south of Kyiv; his head still has not been found.

Nov. 28, 2000 Oleksandr Moroz, a leader of the Socialist Party and a leading opponent to President Leonid Kuchma, unveils audio recordings allegedly made by the president’s bodyguard, Mykola Melnychenko. The tapes seem to implicate Kuchma in Gongadze’s abduction. The tapes included conversations with voices resembling Kuchma, chief of staff Volodymyr Lytvyn, State Security Service head Leonid Derkach and Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko, discussing how to get rid of Gongadze, who had irritated Kuchma with his muckraking journalism.

Feb. 27, 2001 General Prosecutor’s Office initiates criminal case into the intentional murder of Gongadze.

2002 – 2003 Prosecutorial investigators suggest police officers could have been involved in the murder.

October 2003 General prosecutor Svyatoslav Piskun arrests police general Oleksiy Pukach on suspicion of involvement in Gongadze’s disappearance and murder. Kuchma dismisses Piskun; Pukach is released from custody by a court ruling and ultimately flees the country.

December 2004 Court reinstates Piskun as general prosecutor

December 2004 Victor Yushchenko propelled to Ukraine’s presidency by the Orange Revolution and promises that the case of Gongadze and other crimes from the past will be solved. Lytvyn continues to serve as speaker of Ukraine’s parliament, a post he assumed in 2002, when he stepped down as presidential chief of staff.

March 1, 2005 Yushchenko announces that Gongadze’s assassins have been arrested

March 3, 2005 Piskun announces plans to question former interior minister Kravchenko as a witness in the Gongadze case. However, the next day, Kravchenko was found dead with two gunshots to the head in what investigators called a probable suicide. He was to appear for questioning that very day.

Nov. 23, 2005 Kyiv Appellate Court commences proceedings in a case against Mykola Protasov, Valeriy Kostenko and Oleksandr Popovych, three police officers accused of physically killing Gongadze upon the orders of Pukach, who had fled

November 2005 European Court of Human Rights orders Ukraine to pay 100,000 euros to Myroslava Gongadze as compensation for moral and material losses due to the country’s inability to properly investigate the murder.

2006 Ruling coalition led by Victor Yanukovych appoints Moroz as parliament speaker in place of Lytvyn.

Fall 2007 Moroz loses parliament speaker job after his party falls short of the cutoff in a snap election

March 15, 2008 Protasov, Kostenko and Popovych sentenced to 12-13 years in prison for their participation in the murder. Pukach remains at large.

August 2008 Moroz, who first blew the whistle on Gongadze’s murder, told a journalist that he didn’t think Kuchma was responsible. “Kuchma’s [emotional] complexes were used: his hot temper and lack of restraint. His statements were twisted and used very well. I do not think he had anything to do with the journalist’s death,” Moroz said, a few days before Kuchma’s lavish 70th birthday celebration.

December 2008 Lytvyn regains position as parliament’s speaker after his faction in parliament forms coalition with the bloc led by Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko

February 2009 The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopts a resolution demanding Ukraine finish the Gongadze investigation, and conduct proper investigations into the death of Kravchenko and the release from custody of Pukach. Ukraine’s prosecutors announce they will appoint international experts to examine the Melnychenko recordings, more than eight years after they surfaced.

May-June 2009 Former Interior Ministry General Eduard Fere, a former associate of Kravchenko and key suspect in the Gongadze case, dies in a Ukrainian hospital, allegedly after spending the previous six years in a coma. The death of Fere is dubbed by Reporters Without Borders as a serious blow to the investigation. He and another former top law enforcement official under Kravchenko, Yuriy Degaev, are suspected of ordering Pukach to murder Gongadze, but it remains unclear to this day where the orders originated. Without testimony of Degaev, Fere, Kravchenko and Pukach, it may be impossible to identify who gave the orders.

July 22 2009 Ukrainian law enforcement captures Pukach.