Political analyst Taras Berezovets, director of the Berta Communications consulting company, believes there are several reasons why the Gongadze case has been activated.
Commenting on a string of news reports in Ukrainian media regarding the high-profile case, Berezovets noted that the interest of Ukraine’s Western partners in the “tape scandal” and the Gongadze case remains as high as before. “The West has not forgotten about this case. The representatives of the European Commission have said they expect for this case to be investigated in Ukraine. A terrible crime has been committed, and the people responsible for it must be brought to justice,” he said.
However, the analyst pointed out that in the current military-political confrontation between Ukraine and Russia, there is clear evidence that certain influential groups are trying to remove Leonid Kuchma, Ukraine’s second president, from the negotiations process on resolving the situation in the Donbas.
“In the Ukrainian situation there is a delicate diplomatic process taking place, and one of the chief negotiators from Ukraine is Leonid Kuchma. Naturally, there is a real desire on the part of the Russian Federation to ‘knock him out’ in order to replace him with Viktor Medvedchuk (Putin’s crony, whose daughter is Putin’s godchild — Ed.). This is highly undesirable for Ukraine. This is why it is quite possible that obvious attempts will be made to find a connection between Kuchma and the Gongadze case and to discredit him the media,” Berezovets said.
Berezovets also noted that the recent appearance in Ukrainian media of Mykola Melnychenko (former Kuchma bodyguard who claims to have secretly taped incriminating conversations — Ed.) indicates that he is acting in the interest of certain businessmen and Russian special services.
“Mykola Melnychenko is a crook on a national scale. Everybody remembers how he wanted to ‘bargain’ with these tapes. It is now clear that trust in this person has been exhausted. When he declares something, it must be understood that he has succeeded in bamboozling some businessmen or politicians, ” he said.
According to Berezovets, the question of an independent and thorough investigation of Melnychenko in order to determine his role in organizing the “tape scandal” continues to be relevant.
“Let’s look at the Melnychenko tapes, which are being used in an attempt to blame the journalist’s murder on Kuchma, who was president at the time. They undoubtedly have been copied multiple times. They have so much falsified information that their authenticity has not been established. There are a few separate segments and fragments but nothing more. It makes it impossible to rely on the tapes to establish the truth in the Gongadze case,” he said.
“Why hasn’t law enforcement taken up the Melnychenko question seriously? It’s an open question. I’m obviously not an advocate for Leonid Kuchma, but we need to face the truth. The tape scandal was actually organized by Russia to make Kuchma more manageable. That is what happened — they weakened his position. Therefore, there are reasons to believe that Mr. Melnychenko, in one way or another, was acting in the interests of Russian special services.
Note: Former Putin advisor Andrey Illarionov suggests a similar interpretation in a recent interview, where he notes that Russia was compelled to “weaken” Kuchma when he turned out to be less accommodating than expected.