Alexander Gorobets: Hot political winter in Ukraine is coming up

November 28 will celebrate a year from the time, when the leader of Ukraine’s Socialist Party (USP) Alexander Moroz announced from the tribune of the Ukrainian parliament that the disappearance of the opposition journalist, Georgy Gongadze was caused by the power, and Leonid Kuchma – the head of the state – was personally and directly involved in that. That was also the time, when Ukraine learned about the Ukrainian Security Service major Nikolay Melnichenko, who allegedly recorded the president’s conversations and had tons of audio tapes to take along when leaving abroad.

This was basically the start of “Gongadze’s matter” and “the cassette scandal,” which shocked Ukraine with numerous statements from the opposition, dismissals among the senior officials of Ukraine’s defense departments, Kuchma’s worsened international and home image.

The opposition now acknowledges that it failed to execute the major goal - to change the power. “The tent township” which was built in the centre of Kiev on December 15, was the start of the mass protest actions, which lasted till February. The opposition arranged its latest protest on March 9. The day was over with a mass fight right beside the walls of the presidential administration’s premises. The same night the law-enforcement bodies pogromized the office of the youth radical and nationalistic movement, as a result of the assault. The spokesmen for this movement have always been the first in the rows of the street demonstrations, fought with the police. So, all activists of the movement have been arrested. Sixteen of them, with Andrey Shkil at the head, are still kept in a detention centre.

As the defence say, the young people are still under the arrest without a reason. The thing is that the new Criminal Code came into effect in Ukraine from September 1, 2001. The article, on which they were taken into the custody, has been withdrawn from the legislation. The trial does not actually start either. The court sessions on the matter have been delayed twice due to the fact that the court room was so filled with people that it was impossible to hold any kind of a session. The requirements from the defendants and the defense to find a bigger court room have not been satisfied yet. Supposedly, as it seems. The third session, which took place in the beginning of the current week, was over with a challenge: the defendants demanded they should be judged not by one judge, but by a collegium of judges.

The coming parliamentary elections to a certain extent split the actions of the Front of the National Salvation, which was organized in the beginning of this year. The parties and blocs, which are included in this organization, failed to agree about the establishment of the joint pre-election bloc. However, there is nothing surprising here: the political forces, of the Front of the National Salvation do not mix. The Front united them structurally, but they still have their own mottoes and programs and they go separately from each other.

The power managed to regroup its forces and Leonid Kuchma enlisted the support from the Russian and Polish leaders. There was even a meeting with the US Secretary for Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. Washington agreed to have a meeting with the Ukrainian premier for the first time since the beginning of the “cassette scandal.”

One may assume that Melnichenko’s audio collection will reveal more news pertaining to the illegal weapon sales. There are already hints that the future scandal will have Leonid Kuchma, the President, and Alexander Kuzmum, the former Defense Minister of Ukraine, involved in it.

The world media have already reported that Osama bin Laden’s terrorist groups allegedly had the weapons, delivered from Ukraine. Besides, the litigation, connected with the Ukrainian citizen a businessman from the city of Odessa Alexander Zhukov, is going on currently in Turkey. This person has repeatedly appeared in the presidential office, and Nikolay Melnichenko has already “played” a part of the taped conversations between Kuchma and Zhukov. Zhukov was used to illegally sell mafia’s weapons to terrorists.

The new “records” are expected to become public on November 28. Nikolay Melnichenko will call from the United States (where he is now as a political refugee) to the Ukrainian division of the international radio Svoboda and will be on the air live. A lot of sensations are expected to be said.

Another important date is coming - the anniversary of December 15, when a lot of tents appeared in Kiev’s centre. Some people say it would be better to celebrate this day in Ukraine as the Day of Freedom. It seems like this winter will be very hot in Ukraine. -dos-

Alexander Gorobets PRAVDA.Ru Kiev Ukraine