Just over one month ago, when president Yanukovych had, what was by all reports, a cordial round-table meeting with Ukraine's three former presidents, he must have known, in true Soprano's style, of plans to 'shaft' Kuchma with charges connecting him to the 10 year old murder of journalist Georgy Gongadze. He lulled Leonid Danilovych into a false sense of security.
VR deputy speaker Mykola Tomenko, in Mykola Knyazhytsky's eponymous tv programme, claims one of the reasons for going after Kuchma is to press the former president's son-in-law Viktor Pinchuk, who owns three major television channels, into 'redistributing' his media empire. Kuchma's daughter Olena now personally escorts her dad when he is called in for questioning.
Tomenko adds that if Mykola Melnychenko's secret recordings [made in former president Kuchma's office] are fully accepted as material evidence, the current authorities could be opening a pandora's box because many of them, including PM Azarov and Yanukovych, are themselves allegedly heard planning and approving illegal deeds. [Kuchma's lawyers will try and turn the tables on Melnychenko - if the recordings are deemed by the court to be fake or doctored, it could be M.M. who finishes up in the dock.]
'Kommentarii', in an article entitled: "How much will they take away from Leonid Kuchma" also hints at possible mercantile reasons, amongst others, for the recent developments. The case against ex-President Leonid Kuchma "may be dictated by serious financial interest, together with personal resentment by the current head of state", they say.
The article concludes: "When considering the reasons for the persecution of Kuchma, it is not possible to avoid a personal motive. Yanukovych could well bear resentment against the former head of state because of his failure, and difficult five years following the orange revolution. Whatever else, the opening of a criminal case against someone at Kuchma's level suggests that Ukraine has entered a new era, where there are no longer any taboo, 'no-go' areas for the government. Now, even the firmly entrenched PoR political elite must understand that they have no immunity from prosecution by the authorities. Tomorrow any businessman could be invited to the prosecutor's office for tea, may have to "offer" to give up his business , and the day after could be writing a letter complaint from a solitary confinement cell.
The criminal prosecution of Kuchma could be the first warning bell, which may in future push the oligarchs to unite against "The [Yanukovych] Family". But it is hard to believe that all of Ukraine's billionaires would sit down at one table - more likely they will silently wait for the "slaughter" in the hope that it will pass them by. Furthermore, the current campaign against former president Kuchma, without [any perceived] fear of repercussion in the future, could be considered as the action of short-sighted head of state, or of a person convinced that he will be in power for life."
Others suggest Yanukovych's presidential nomination in 2004 by Kuchma was worthy of "400 million thank-yous"...[Does he, or his backers now want these back? Maybe Kuchma hasn't spent them all yet.. At the end of his second and final term in office there were several potentially more attractive candidates Kuchma could have given his blessing to.]
'Leviy Bereg's' Sonya Koshkina says the Gongadze affair is aways aired whenever any government wants to deflect attention from current [economic] problems. If anything, the charging of Kuchma with criminal offences has gained him sympathy in some quarters, despite his odious reputation.
p.s. Birthdays are a big deal amongst Ukraine's political elite - tasteless presents, parties, greetings cards, bouquets of flowers big enough to accommodate a troupe of monkeys are frequently given. Kuchma always got these and more from former colleagues of almost all political colours after leaving power. But not from Yanukovych...