Violations of human rights and republican freedoms, repression of opposition forces, discreditation of their leaders, who are blocked from the largely government-controlled media, are followed by open lies to the international community.
Last month, about 50,000 people converged on the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, demanding Kuchma's resignation in the largest display yet of public opposition to his rule. Their calls were supported by the leaders of the opposition, who contend that he has corrupted the government, is driving Ukrainians to the brink of poverty, and lacks the moral authority to rule.
The protests came two years to the day, after the mysterious death of Internet journalist Georgiy Gongadze, who criticized Kuchma in his publications. The journalistís headless corpse was found in a forest some 90 miles outside Kiev shortly after a voice, reported to be that of Kuchma, was heard on secretly recorded tapes telling aides to get rid of the journalist.
The Kuchma administration, of course, rejected all accusations and insisted that the opposition is trying to discredit government authorities. However, it is extremely difficult to trust the Ukrainian administration, which already has a long record of manipulating public opinion and falsifying facts.
Last year, a Russian commercial charter airplane with about 80 passengers, flying from Israel to Siberia, went down in the Black Sea, and nobody survived. It was hit by a Ukrainian missile, but Kievís military officials and President Kuchma strongly denied any Ukrainian involvement in the accident, until U.S. intelligence provided more than enough proof that the airliner was shot down by a Ukrainian missile.
Only after the introduction of unshakable evidence, did Kuchma and his military staff, who had no choice, accept the fact that the civilian airplane was hit by a Ukrainian weapon..
Last month, the world was shocked by revelations in the Ukrainian press about the disappearance of about 200 nuclear weapons from 2,400 tactical nukes, which during the days of the Soviet Union had been located in this former Soviet republic. Kuchmaís administration played down this news and rejected calls to investigate the case, knowing full well that some of these nuclear weapons (if not all of them) could find a way into the hands of international terrorists and rogue nations.
In late September, the Bush administration announced plans to send a team of experts to Ukraine to investigate whether the former Soviet republic has sold a radar system to Iraq. The U.S.A. will consider punitive measures beyond halting $54 million in aid.
The agreement on the arrival of a U.S. team with military and technical expertise came during a two-day visit by Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Jones, who pressed Kuchma on evidence that he personally approved the sale of a radar system to Iraq.
Previously, a spokeswoman for Kuchma denied the charges during meetings with Western officials, including American and British representatives. However, the State Department said that it had authentic audiotapes provided by a former Ukrainian security official indicating that Kuchma personally approved the transfer of a Kolchuga radar system to Iraq in violation of U.N. sanctions.
As disclosed by audiotaped conversations, someone said to be Kuchma was heard giving Valeri Malev, director of Ukrspetsexport, the state-run arms-exporting company, the go-ahead to ship the $100 million radar system to Iraq. On March 3, Kuchma was told that a parliamentary commission had evidence he had violated the international arms embargo against Iraq, but four days later Malev was killed in a car accident.
There are no doubts that we cannot trust the present Ukrainian leaders, who pretend to be our friends but are taking their country far away from a true republic and a free-market economy. And our politicians, who are providing Kiev authorities with funds, have to be very careful in dealing with the Ukrainian leaders, who are deceiving the international community at every opportunity.
Colonel Stanislav Lunev is the highrst-ranking Russian or Soviet military intelligence officer ever to defect to the U.S.A. For the greater part of his adult life, Colonel Lunev worked for the Glavnoye Razvedyvalelnoye Upravlenie (GRU), or Main Intelligence Administration--Russia's highly efficient and professional military intelligence agency. From 1988 to 1992, Lunev was a GRU intelligence officer operating out of the GRU's field office in Washington, D.C. In 1992, after Boris Yeltsin came to power in Russia, Lunev defected to the United States government. Since his defection, Lunev has pro- vided important imformation to the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelli- gence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other U.S. defense and national security agencies--information considered so crucial that he was placed in the FBI Witness Protection Program, where he remains to this day.
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