Georgiy Gongadze murder tied to late Ukrainian minister

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A portrait of Ukrainian Interior Minister Yuri Kravchenko is carried at his funeral in Kiev, 7 September 2005
Image caption,
Kravchenko is said to have shot himself twice in the head

Ukrainian prosecutors say a former minister, now dead, ordered the notorious murder of investigative journalist Georgiy Gongadze in 2000.

The reporter was abducted and his headless body was found months later in a forest near the capital Kiev.

Yuri Kravchenko, who was then interior minister, "instigated and ordered" the murder, prosecutors said.

Kravchenko is said to have committed suicide in 2005, his body found with two gunshot wounds to the head.

Gen Oleksiy Pukach, a former police officer, is accused of committing the murder on Kravchenko's orders, and was arrested last year after six years on the run.

Prosecutors argue that he acted in the hope of being promoted.

Gongadze had exposed high-level corruption and was an outspoken critic of the then President, Leonid Kuchma.

Image caption,
Gongadze was abducted and killed

Secret tape recordings released soon after the murder appeared to implicate Mr Kuchma.

In them, he allegedly discusses ways of removing the journalist in conversation with Kravchenko.

Mr Kuchma did not deny the voice in the recordings was his but insisted it had been doctored to make him appear to say things he had not actually said.

The Gongadze affair sparked massive street protests against Mr Kuchma's government.

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