“Leonid Kuchma’s henchmen are still running this country”
The authorities decided to revisit the Melnychenko case once again. We learned on September 18 that the Pechersky District Court, acting at the request of a prosecutor from the Prosecutor-General’s Office (PGO), seized the real estate and bank accounts belonging to former State Security Administration (SSA) Major Mykola Melnychenko. The court also granted a permission to detain him. The Sudovy Reporter website reported the news citing court papers.
In fact, this is an old story, because the case against Melnychenko was launched back in 2000. But this latest report says that the case was launched on August 19, 2015. “They merely entered it in the register in 2015, while the case itself was old and launched under the old Criminal Code. Now the PGO has just reopened it and added another charge,” explained attorney Mykola Nedilko, who defends Melnychenko’s interests in court.
So what does the aforementioned report say?
“Melnychenko is investigated over suspicion of committing high treason in the form of espionage, disclosure of classified information, exceeding official authority, as well as legalization (laundering) of proceeds from crime, as provided for in Art. 111 Pt. 1, Art. 328 Pt. 2, Art. 365 Pt. 3, and Art. 209 Pt. 2 of the Criminal Code. It has been established that Melnychenko, in his capacity as a senior security officer of the operational and technical inspection bureau of the SSA’s operational and technical department, while charged with conducting operational and technical inspections in a special regime facility – the office of the president of Ukraine, acting deliberately to the detriment of Ukraine’s national security in the field of external relations, moved by personal gain considerations, deliberately collected, with the intention of passing them on, classified data contained in the records of conversations between president Leonid Kuchma and senior officials and political figures of the nation from February to September 2000, and then passed these data to representatives of foreign organizations for a commensurate monetary compensation from 2002-2004, which was subsequently legalized through the purchase of real estate, vehicles and other property, both in the US and in Ukraine.”
However one thinks of Melnychenko, but for some strange reason it is his case that gets investigated, and not the main one, namely the Gongadze-Podolsky case. Let us compare them. The last court hearing in Oleksii Pukach’s trial took place on May 31, 2017, when the court ruled to declassify audio records of hearings held by the trial and appellate courts. Now, officials have not even started to implement this decision yet, let alone achieving any progress in finding those who ordered the crimes. Why is it so?
“ACCORDING TO THE AUTHORITIES’ LOGIC, THE PRINCIPAL SECRET IS THE FACT THAT PRESIDENT KUCHMA INSTRUCTED PEOPLE TO COMMIT CRIMES WHILE SITTIG IN HIS OWN OFFICE”
Oleksii Podolsky, a public figure and the surviving victim in the Gongadze-Podolsky case:
“When I last saw Melnychenko, he showed me some documents pertaining to his case, in which the PGO repeats once again that episodes involving Heorhii Gongadze, Oleksandr Yeliashkevych and myself were classified. Accordingly, if Melnychenko recorded these crimes, then he is a traitor. That is, according to their logic, the principal secret is that a president instructed people to kill journalists and MPs, like in Gongadze’s case, heard a report on the committed crime in my case, and gave a direct order for physical destruction in Yeliashkevych’s case. And all these things they want to classify.
Let us recall that we all fought for a long time to declassify case papers. We won, as almost all the case papers and court hearings’ minutes have been declassified. However, audio records of what happened during Pukach’s trials in the trial and appellate courts are still classified. Therefore, we demand that it be declassified. Why? Because this information contradicts in some points the court records which have already already declassified. For example, the whole world heard Pukach telling the trial court that he would agree with the verdict only when Kuchma and Volodymyr Lytvyn would sit next to him behind the bars. However, these words are absent from the trial’s minutes. Back in May 2017, the Supreme Court ordered audio records of these trials to be declassified, but they have not even begun to do so. Under our pressure, the commission on declassification will meet for the first time as late as this October.
All this is called rigging. And those who have been doing this for many years must stand trial. Why are they rigging the case? To save not only Kuchma, but also themselves. Therefore, if they will stand trial, this should be a large-scale trial aiming to purge corruption from this country.
Prosecutor-General Yurii Lutsenko plays an important role here, because he effectively protects those who ordered the above-mentioned crimes. For them, a person who has exposed their crimes is a traitor against the nation. I do not want to act as Melnychenko’s lawyer, but he has recorded the crimes of a president of Ukraine. For all his flaws, this was a heroic act. I think that Interpol, being aware of this situation in its entirety, will not extradite Melnychenko to Ukraine. And if the current government wants it, then let them try Melnychenko, and we will tell the court not only about Gongadze, Yeliashkevych and myself, but also about the economic crimes committed by Kuchma. Where has he got his fortune which is worth a billion, if he has never engaged in business? Today they seized Melnychenko’s assets, but one would do better to start with Lutsenko’s assets – let him explain the origin of his assets. Let me remind you that at one point, Lutsenko himself pressed the button of a tape recorder which replayed Melnychenko’s recordings. I sent a letter to him a few days ago, in which I pointed out that as soon as he got hold of the many volumes of the Gongadze case, he effectively closed it without recognizing me as a victim in my own case, and thus brazenly ignored the demands of Ukrainian public, as well as written appeals by international bodies. Our great poet Taras Shevchenko wrote about this sort of people back in his time thus:
You will sell
Even your own mother
For a piece of rotten sausage...”
“THE MELNYCHENKO TAPES WERE PASSED TO THE US BY LUTSENKO HIMSELF”
Mykola Nedilko, an attorney:
“We marked the 18th anniversary of the abduction and murder of journalist Gongadze recently. Journalists once again raised the issue of prosecuting those who ordered the crime. As you know, Melnychenko is the denunciator and one of the main witnesses in the Gongadze criminal case. If not for his actions to record and publish Kuchma’s sayings, then this criminal case could have never started at all. Moreover, the Gongadze-linked portion of the Melnychenko tapes was once passed to the US. And it was then-deputy head of the provisional investigation commission Lutsenko who passed them. That is, even if Melnychenko passed the tapes to someone, then he only did it in obedience to the decision of the commission.
Now to his assets. A month ago, I helped Melnychenko to succeed to his estate after the deaths of his parents. When he departed Ukraine because of political persecution, the authorities searched his and his parents’ residences and his office as part of the criminal proceeding against him. His father then died of his health condition and additional stress. His mother could not deal with the death of her husband and died too. They left an estate that he could not succeed to for a long time after the deaths of his parents, because there were certain obstacles. When Natalka Rodzynska came to Ukraine, she handed me an authorization letter from Nikolai. Then we quickly completed the succession procedure on behalf of Melnychenko and his brother.
And then, strangely enough, we get a court ruling to seize his assets. This criminal proceeding stems from an old criminal case first launched in 2000. And the statute of limitations has run out long ago on these charges: after all, 18 years have passed. Therefore, this case had to be closed long ago. We the attorneys have not been allowed to look into this case. I do not rule out that my phone was tapped, because almost as soon as I started helping Melnychenko with his assets, after just a few weeks, the court decided to seize them. By the way, what actions have the authorities taken in the Kuchma case? Have we seen any police or investigative actions? We have not seen any. They do not investigate this case. Instead, they first prevented Melnychenko from coming to Ukraine to bury his parents, and then seized his inherited assets.
Melnychenko currently resides in the US and is there legally. He has a business there, he and Rodzynska legally earn money together. He has never evaded justice and has provided all the necessary evidence, but Ukraine has never held a fair trial in this case, so he is forced to stay in the US.
Why is it all happening at all? Because people who appear in the Melnychenko tapes are still in power or exert a great influence on decision-making processes. These tapes document more than crimes, they show how the oligarchic system emerged in Ukraine, how assets were illegally acquired. Therefore, they persecute Melnychenko and do not investigate the Gongadze case. Kuchma’s henchmen are still running this country.”