Ukrainian former official admits to murdering journalist

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Georgiy R. Gongadze

A former official from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine has confessed to involvement in the abduction and murder of journalist Georgiy R. Gongadze in 2000. Olexiy Pukach has also implicated other officials in the crime.

Gongadze criticised the government of then-President Leonid Kuchma. On September 16, 2000, he was abducted and his decapitated remains were found two weeks later near Kiev. Kuchma's opponents described the slaying as political, and there was widespread controversy on national and international levels.

Olexiy Pukach, who was apprehended on Tuesday, told officials his involvement with the case was "direct" and has gone on to give a full confession. Prosecutors believe he strangled Gongadze himself after three officials from the police—convicted of murder last year—brought Gongadze to Pukach.

According to Vassyl Grytsak of the Security Service of Ukraine, Pukach has also offered to take authorities to the location of the journalists head, which was never recovered.

He also said to arresting officers that "I have been waiting for you since the beginning." Kuchma himself is alleged to be directly involved, as a series of tapes totaling over 700 hours have been leaked after they were allegedly made in secret by one of his bodyguards; the evidence has been ruled inadmissible by a parliamentary commission that failed to prove or disprove their authenticity. Kuchma denies any involvement.

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