"Ukraine has opened a criminal investigation against the country's former president, Leonid Kuchma, on suspicion of involvement in the 2000 murder of an opposition journalist [Georgiy Gongadze]. Deputy Prosecutor-General Renat Kuzmin announced the probe Tuesday, after a decade of pressure from Mr. Kuchma's opponents."
Many observers are speculating over reasons why prosecutors are targetting Kuchma, now, more than ten years after Gongadze's death. Trust in the country's law enforcement agencies - the police, prosecutors, judges and courts, has always been very low, so most concur, with much cynicism, that pursuit of justice is hardly an explanation.
Diana Dutsyk in 'Glavred' lists possible motives for the recent developments:
1. To divert media attention in Europe and elsewhere from Yulia Tymoshenko who will be spending the next few days in Brussels 'bad-mouthing' the current Yanukovych-led Ukrainian administration.
2. The current authorities want to rehabilitate themselves in the eyes of the international community after much bad publicity and show that there is 'one law for all' in Ukraine.
3. The case against Kuchma may have been reactivated following pressure from the West, and the USA in particular. [Others speculate that the US may provide incriminating evidence linking the former PM Lazarenko, currently imprisoned in the USA, to Yulia Tymoshenko. But in exchange, Ukrainian law enforcement agencies have to 'nail' Kuchma.]
4. The ever more powerful 'Donetskiites' are 'muscling in' on other non Donetsk business groups, including those connected to Kuchma's son-in-law Viktor Pinchuk. The current push against Kuchma could be a signal that during this 'redistribution process' no-one is too big to avoid being 'gobbled up'.
5. Revenge for 2004. Yanukovych feels bitter that he was betrayed by Kuchma during the orange revolution, and he holds the former president responsible for 5 lost years between 2005 and 2010. [LEvko quite likes this version - in crime circles betrayal always has to be avenged - it is difficult to believe that this resonant action against Kuchma was sanctioned by any person other than the 'top banana' himself. Seemingly intelligent criminals frequently consider their vengeful and/or rapacious deeds to be completely self-justified. Righting wrongs of the past allegedly done to themselves is a principal justification. Such self-justification may also explain Yanukovych's current vengefulness to political enemies, and the 'compensatory' kleptocratic behaviour of 'The Family' which he heads. Needless to say, such attitudes frequently lead to downfall. ]
6. As a diversion tactic to deflect attention of Ukraine's citizens and others from serious economic problems. Significant demonstrations by teachers and industrial workers took place in several cities earlier this week. [Sonya Koshkina supports this theory and suggests US political advisors may have dreamt up the scheme. Yanukovych had a choice whether to throw the much hated minister of Education Dmytro Tabachnyk, or Kuchma to the lions..he chose the latter. The blackmailing of parliamentary speaker Lytvyn, who is allegedly linked to Gongadze's murder, could be a useful bonus for Yanukovych too.
7. To take the case against Kuchma to a logical conclusion: find him not guilty in a law court, and absolve him without a stain to his character. The current administration thus shows that 'true' justice is important for them - they cannot be accused of selective justice in the event that Tymoshenko and other opposition leaders will be jailed on the charges they are currently facing.
Other commentators claim current head of the SBU security service, Valeriy Khoroshkovsky, may be returning to the position of head of the customs service. Renat Kuzmin wishes to replace Khoroshkovsky [whom he dislikes] at the SBU - the current high profile PR action against Kuchma puts Kuzmin firmly in the media spotlight.
Because a statute of limitations applies on the charges directed against Kuchma, it is most unlikely he will ever be incarcerated, even if found guilty by a court of law. He did look worried though when he was interviews outside the P-G's office...it's probably all messing up his plans for a Spring cruise on his son-in-law's yacht in the Med.
The case against Kuchma can be 'fine tuned' or even 'kicked into the long grass' according to which individual, or which combination of the above motives become more or less important.
p.s . Ukraine's second president being charged of involvement with murder, Ukraine's third president lucky to survive near-fatal poisoning, Ukraine's current, fourth president served two terms in prison for violent crime...says something about the country?