Ukraine. According to
Countryaah, the charges against President Leonid Kuchma for
planning the assassination of regime-critical journalist
Georgij Gongadze in the fall of 2000 grew into a political
scandal. At the beginning of the year, it was confirmed that
the decapitated body found outside Kiev was the missing
journalist. Gongadze had made revelations about political
corruption and there was a tape recording with Kuchma's
voice discussing a journalist's removal. Kuchma denied all
involvement, but the otherwise divided political opposition
agreed in a campaign to remove the president. Kuchma tried
to satisfy the opposition by dismissing, among other things,
the head of the security service and later also the interior
minister. But the protests continued.
In the midst of the tense situation, Russian President
Vladimir Putin came to visit for talks on Ukraine's growing
debt for Russian energy supplies. The Western isolation of
Kuchma's undemocratic regime has made Ukraine increasingly
dependent on Russia. 2000 was the first year of economic
growth since independence in 1991. then outstanding salaries
and pensions could be paid. Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko
was seen in the West as the man behind the economic
turnaround. But in April 2001, Yushchenko was forced to
resign after the government lost a vote of no confidence in
the Communist-dominated parliament. The criticism concerned
Yushchenko's economic reforms and austerity. Yushchenko was
supported in street protests and he decided to gather a
coalition of parties under the name "Our Ukraine" ahead of
the 2002 parliamentary elections.
Several attacks on journalists in the spring and summer
led Reporters Without Borders to designate Ukraine as the
European country with the most violence against journalists.
A TV chief died after the abuse and became the eleventh
journalist killed in Ukraine in five years.
The defense minister was dismissed in October when it
became clear that a Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile
accidentally hit a Russian passenger plane over the Black
Sea. The 78 people who lost their lives in the explosion
were on their way from Israel to Russia.
The Communist Party won a big success at the end of the
year, when the Constitutional Court of Ukraine declared that
Parliament's ten-year ban on the party violated the
country's constitution. Despite the parliamentary decision,
the Communists continued to operate in independent Ukraine
and constitute the largest group in parliament. But the
party, which is in opposition to President Kuchma, has
constantly struggled to gain legal recognition. However, the
Court rejected the Communists' claim to recover property
belonging to the party during the Soviet era.