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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kuchma Accused of Plotting Journalist's Demise

A leader of Ukraine’s socialist opposition claims to have evidence that President Leonid Kuchma plotted to kill a journalist who disappeared in Kiev in September.

Alexander Moroz on Tuesday played an audiocassette to reporters containing what he says are recordings of conversations between Kuchma and two of his high-ranking subordinates — presidential Chief of Staff Vladimir Litvin and Interior Minister Yury Kravchenko. Almost simultaneously, transcripts of the tapes were posted on his party’s web site.

Peppered with street-style obscenities, the conversations include comments expressing annoyance at Georgy Gongadze’s writings as well as discussions of ways to shut him up. Among the suggestions are deporting Gongadze and arranging from him to be kidnapped and taken to Chechnya. Killing him is not mentioned.

Earlier this month, police found a decapitated body on the outskirts of Kiev that many believe is Gongadze’s.

Moroz said in a telephone interview Wednesday that he had no doubt the tape was real and that the three men speaking on it are Kuchma, Litvin and Kravchenko. He said it was obtained through a security service officer, whose name he would not disclose.

Moroz appealed to the Verkhovnya Rada, or Ukrainian parliament, on Wednesday to invite foreign experts to establish the identities of the voices on the tape and to finalize the identification of the decapitated body.

Of the few possessions found with the body, there were items that Gongadze’s acquaintances say belonged to the journalist, who worked for Ukraininan web site Prosecutors have not announced the results of the identification process.

Kuchma on Wednesday threatened to sue Moroz.

"There are indeed no options left for the president but either to resign or take me to court," Moroz said. "The only argument they [Kuchma’s administration] could have against me is illegal taping of the conversations, but I did not tape them, I just happened to have them."

Moroz, whose Leftist Center faction accounts for only 16 seats in the 450-seat parliament, said there was a chance the parliament would approve his request for an official probe into the tape. The initiative would need the support of at least 226 deputies.

"And then we could get the grounds for launching an impeachment case against Kuchma," Moroz said.

The transcripts of the tape are posted in Ukrainian at: