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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kravchenko Death Is Ruled Suicide

KIEV -- The death of a former interior minister just hours before he was to testify about the killing of a crusading journalist has been ruled a suicide, Ukraine's top security officer said Thursday.

Oleksandr Turchinov, the head of the State Security Service, said forensics and ballistics tests showed Yury Kravchenko killed himself.

"There is no other version today but a suicide," Turchinov said.

Among possible reasons of Kravchenko's apparent suicide, he said, was the "burden that he had hauled for the past four years."

Kravchenko was found dead in his home with two gunshot wounds to the head on March 4, hours before he was expected to appear before prosecutors investigating the slaying of reporter Heorhiy Gongadze, whose headless body was found outside Kiev in 2000.

Opponents had accused former President Leonid Kuchma of ordering Kravchenko to deal with Gongadze, citing secret recordings allegedly made by Kuchma's former bodyguard, Mykola Melnichenko. Kuchma and Kravchenko are heard repeatedly discussing Gongadze on the tapes.

Also on Thursday, the European Court of Human Rights accepted a lawsuit by Gongadze's wife, Myroslava, against Ukraine, the Council of Europe said on its web site.