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GONGADZE'S WIFE HOLDS PRESIDENT RESPONSIBLE FOR JOURNALIST'S DISAPPEARANCE. Myroslava Gongadze said on 17 April that until investigators find the people responsible for the disappearance and presumed murder of her husband she will hold President Leonid Kuchma guilty, Reuters reported. Speaking at a press conference in Warsaw, Gongadze said: "If the people who have been accused -- the president and his entourage -- had wanted, then I think this investigation would have been more effective." Gongadze said prosecutors are still denying her access to information about the beheaded corpse that was found in November, which many believe to be her husband's. She said that she has not yet decided whether or not to accept political asylum in the U.S., and added that she strongly supports Premier Viktor Yushchenko. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 April)

U.S. GRANTS ASYLUM TO FORMER KUCHMA BODYGUARD, MISSING JOURNALIST'S FAMILY... The U.S. State Department confirmed on 16 April that Washington has granted political asylum to Mykola Melnychenko, the former bodyguard of Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, and the wife and two daughters of the missing journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, Reuters reported. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the decision to grant asylum was based on "standard international practice," and did not signal a change in U.S. policy toward Ukraine. Melnychenko has been in hiding in Europe since releasing audio tapes he says he recorded in the president's office that link Kuchma to Gongadze's disappearance. Kuchma has called Melnychenko a "traitor and a spy" and claims the tapes are forged. A headless corpse found outside Kyiv was initially reported, after testing, to be Gongadze's, though a later test performed outside of Ukraine said the tested tissue samples were not the journalist's. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 April)

...AS KYIV IN 'AMAZEMENT' OVER ACTION. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry called U.S. Ambassador to Kyiv Carlos Pascual on 14 April to demand an explanation for the granting of asylum and to express its "deep amazement regarding the decision," AP reported. The ProsecutorGeneral' s Office said that Melnychenko has been charged with libel and forgery and that the decision to grant him asylum "ran counter to the spirit of Ukrainian-U.S. partnership." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 April)

PROSECUTOR SAYS MELNYCHENKO'S TAPES INCLUDE STATE SECRET. Deputy Prosecutor-General Oleksiy Bahanets said on 12 April that recordings made by Mykola Melnychenko, a former presidential bodyguard, include a state secret, Interfax reported. "A part of these recordings includes a state secret, while another part deals with confidential information that cannot be publicized," Bahanets told journalists. It is not clear whether Bahanets' statement is tantamount to an official acknowledgment that the Melnychenko tapes are authentic. Bahanets added that the tapes will now be subjected to a "phonoscopic analysis." The Internet newsletter "Ukrayinska pravda" suggested that experts will now be trying to find whether Melnychenko doctored the tape to include a state secret on it or whether this secret was revealed by Kuchma or one of his interlocutors. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 April)

KUCHMA STEPS IN TO SAVE OPPOSITION RADIO? The German press agency dpa reported on 13 April that President Kuchma instructed the National Council for Television and Radio to make a second review of the debts of Kyiv's Radio Kontinent before rescinding its broadcasting frequency. Earlier in the day, Mykyta Poturaev, the deputy head of the council, declared that Radio Kontinent's frequency would be given to another station because the station has failed to repay a 400,000 hryvni (approximately $300,000 at the time) credit it received from a state bank in 1996. Radio Kontinent Director Serhiy Sholokh said his station will appeal the decision, which he said is politically motivated. The independent Radio Kontinent has original music programs but rebroadcasts news from Deutsche Welle, the BBC, and the Voice of America. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 April)

EUROPEAN MEDIA INSTITUTE OPENS OFFICE. The European Institute for the Media (EIUM) opened a new office in Kyiv on 1 April 2001. Located in the Trade Union building on Maidan Nezalezhnosti 2, 7 Floor, Room 716, it provides opportunities for day-to-day contacts between the EIM Kyiv representative and the local media community. The Kyiv office will shortly begin producing the "Ukrainian Media Bulletin." The EIM's activities in Ukraine are part of the three-year Media for Democracy in the CIS project which the Institute launched in February 2000. The project is partly financed by the European Union through the Initiative for Human Rights and Democratization. Monitoring media coverage before elections is one regular feature of the EIM's activities in the CIS and Central and Eastern Europe. Other activities include seminars and workshops on mediarelated topics such as political communication, media management, broadcasting, and Internet regulation. The EIM's Kyiv office email address is:, and the telephone/fax number is: 380-44-228 33 92. (EIM Press Release, 18 April)

DUMA SPEAKER HOPES SLAVIC MEETING WILL LEAD UKRAINIANS TO JOIN RUSSIA-BELARUS UNION. Duma Seleznev said on 19 April that he hopes the 1-2 June Slavic Congress will encourage Ukrainians to begin to think about having their country join the Russia-Belarus Union, Russian agencies reported. PG

UKRAINIAN PREMIER NOT CONFIDENT OF CHANCES. Viktor Yushchenko predicted on 19 April that his government will not survive an upcoming no-confidence vote of his cabinet by parliament deputies, Reuters reported. Yushchenko said after a vote by parliament declaring his cabinet's performance "unsatisfactory" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 April 2001) that his government "should be retained because of its value and effectiveness. But I'm convinced it will not be retained." Yushchenko said he feared for the future of democracy in Ukraine because of the current political situation. Meanwhile, Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy and security policy chief, said in Kyiv that the country is at the point in the reform process where it must be "clearly demonstrated as irreversible." Solana said that regardless of the outcome of the political events that take place in the next few days, "it will be very important that [Ukraine's] course, the direction of the country, has not changed." He said such a change would have negative effects on Kyiv's relationship with the EU. PB

UKRAINE TO ASK U.S. FOR EXILED BODYGUARD'S EXTRADITION. The Ukrainian Prosecutor-General's Office said on 19 April in Kyiv that it will ask the U.S. to extradite Mykola Melnychenko, a former bodyguard for President Leonid Kuchma who has been granted asylum by Washington, AP reported. Oleksiy Bahanets, the deputy state prosecutor, said "some U.S. officials are preventing the truth in the case from being established." He added that the Prosecutor-General's Office has prepared an appeal to the U.S. Justice Department requesting Melnychenko's extradition. Melnychenko alleges to have taped hours of conversations in Kuchma's office in which the president orders officials to deal with missing journalist Heorhiy Gongadze. Melnychenko has been charged by the Prosecutor-General's Office with fraud and libel. Bahanets also said it is "absurd" to say that Gongadze's wife, who has also been granted asylum by the U.S., is being persecuted in Ukraine. PB