war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

Melnychenko sues Myroslava Gongadze’s Lawyer

The source of tapes which seem to implicate Kuchma, Lytvyn and others in the murder of Georgy Gongadze is claiming that Valentina Telychenko’s statement that he refuses to answer questions about the tapes’ authenticity is defamatory

  Mykola Melnychenko, former Presidential guard told journalists on Monday that he has filed a law suit against Valentina Telychenko, the lawyer representing Myroslava Gongadze. UNIAN reports Melnychenko as saying that he lodged his suit on 29 November, accusing Ms Telychenko of spreading false information about him.  This referred to her remarks after last week’s court hearing in the trial of Oleksy Pukach, the former police general who is charged with Gongadze’s murder. Valentina Telychenko apparently stated that that Melnychenko is refusing to answer questions regarding the authenticity of the tapes he made which implicate former President Kuchma, current Parliamentary Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn and others in the murder of journalist Georgy Gongadze and that his testimony is muddled.  Melnychenko told journalists that he was asking the Pechersky District Court in Kyiv to order Telychenko to apologise and retract the statements.

In a move which led to considerable speculation as to the reasons, Mykola Melnychenko arrived back in Ukraine shortly before the elections. He was arrested at the airport as he clearly knew he would be since he was on the wanted list.  Less predictable – perhaps – was that the court imposed as restraint measure only a signed undertaking not to abscond.

Melnychenko was declared on the wanted list by the SBU in September 2011 and was detained on 2 August 2012 at Naples Airport in connection with an extradition request from the Ukrainian Interpol office (he was subsequently released). 

The detention in Naples came a month after the final court decision in Ukraine upholding termination of charges against former President Kuchma in connection with the murder of Georgy Gongadze.  This was in connection with the Constitutional Court judgement from October 2011which stated that prosecutions could not be based on information received through investigative operations carried out by people unauthorized to do so.  Major Melnychenko acted on his own initiative when he illicitly taped conversations between Kuchma and others.

While appeals against the closure of the criminal case against Kuchma were still continuing, the Pechersky District Court in Kyiv on 26 December decided that the decision by the Prosecutor General’s Office back in 2001 to initiate criminal proceedings against former Presidential guard Mykola Melnychenko had been lawful.

From 2001 to 2004 criminal investigations were initiated against Melnychenko on charges of exceeding his authority, divulging state secrets, as well as of creating artificial evidence for the prosecution. In March 2005 the investigations were terminated by Prosecutor General Piskun. In June 2011 Kuchma’s lawyers appealed to the Pechersky District Court against the termination of the criminal investigation. That appeal was allowed, and the criminal investigation against Melnychenko reinstated. 

The Pukach trial has been continuing behind closed doors for a very long time with no transparency or obvious wish to progress.  The secrecy has been condemned by NGOs in Ukraine and abroad. 

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