Viktor Yushchenko, Ukraine’s former prime minister, could not have imagined that his brief meeting with a disgraced Major Nikolai Melnichenko, President Leonid Kuchma’s former security guard, would have had such a stormy continuation back in Kyiv. The majority of the mass media, including PRAVDA.Ru, reported that the two men had only said “hello” to each other without shaking hands. However, as soon as those reports came out, some journalists started to say that those reports did not conform with reality. For example, the Internet site “Ukraine the criminal,” which had always been noted for its impartiality, published an article titled “Do not let Yushchenko join your reconnaissance party.” The article, in particular, said the following. “Sharing his impressions of his US tour, Viktor Yushchenko told journalists that he had not offered his hand to Nikolai Melnichenko.”
Analyzing the results of Mr. Yushchenko’s visit to the USA, the pressed focused on one peculiar detail. When Mr. Yushchenko was preparing to make his address at the Carnegie Hall, Mr. Melnichenko, accompanied by two body guards, came up to him. Mr. Yushchenko told the Zerkalo Nedeli (Mirror of the Week) weekly what happened next:
- Did you have a conversation?
- For me it was a surprise. We said “hello” to each other, but did not talk.
- When you were being introduced to each other, did you shake hands?
In the meantime, the Carnegie Hall’s entire audience was witnessing the fact that Mr. Yushchenko did shake hands with the controversial major. We will not speculate here on what forced the former premier to tell lies to the Zerkalo Nedeli. We can only mention that when a hand is stretched out, it is commonly a symbol of openness and good intentions.
Politicians often tell lies. It is commonplace and it is not subject to a legal punishment. However, perjury is a different matter, and one can be sentenced for doing so. All in all, it is not recommended to let him join the reconnaissance party. But what about the elections?
Now, let’s have a look at the Ukrainskaya Pravda (Ukrainian truth) Internet newspaper, which was founded and edited by Georgi Gongadze. Alyona Pristupa, the newspaper’s incumbent editor-in-chief, said the following: “Lies uttered by a politician, in my view, is a socially significant fact. Therefore, it is interesting to understand what Viktor Alekseyevich was being driven by when he decided to do so.
The point is that when in Washington, Mr. Yushchenko made speeches at various public associations and foundations. Major Melnichenko came to visit one of those events. The Zerkalo Nedeli weekly’s journalists learned of this encounter, but they must have been misinformed by someone of what really happened there. According to eye witnesses, Mr. Yushchenko, having noticed Major Melnichenko, came up to him and was first to offer his hand.
We seem to be dealing with a symptom. It looks like the participants in the Washington tour arranged to tell lies so that President Kuchma would remain ignorant. Surely, it was in vain, because Mr. Kuchma will be told all the same. For there are enough well-wishers to keep him in the know. Mr. Kuchma still rules and controls, and his benevolence is still important for Ukrainian politicians.
Aleksandr Horobets PRAVDA.Ru Kyiv Ukraine
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2001/11/15/33829.html