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PREFACE TO THE ENGLISH EDITION


Despite the fact that after the book “In the Whirlpool of the Cassette Scandal. A story Told by Eyewitness” was published 10 years ago the events described in it are not completed yet.

Today, people in Ukraine keep on debating the background, course and consequences of the “tape affair” that in Americanized style is increasingly called the “Kuchmagate.”

In March 2011, the Prosecutor General of Ukraine charged the former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma of abuse of power that led to the death of the journalist Georgiy Gongadze. The punishment under this charge is an imprisonment from 5 to 12 years, with deprivation of the right to hold certain positions in public office.

The charges against a person who recently has been the President of the country for 10 years were pressed for the first time in the modern history of Ukraine.


Ukraine has been aspiring independence for centuries.

The path of Ukrainians as a nation to self-determination itself was difficult, tragic and controversial.

United in the 20th century into one country, the Ukrainian people made their best to ensure peaceful coexistence of different cultures and reconcile their history.

Some Ukrainians perceives Russia, the successor to the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, as the main guarantor of their future. The other part, mainly born in the western Ukraine, whose ancestors were citizens of Austria-Hungary, Poland and Romania, are focused on integration with the European Union.

After having gained independence in 1991 following the collapse of the USSR, Ukraine for the second time in its history - after the break-down of the Ukrainian People's Republic (in 1920) set out to creating its own state.

Despite the fact that right after December 5, 1991 the country already had its President elected through general direct elections, the democracy only loomed far away. With Communist era being fresh and vivid in their memory, the Ukrainians elected Leonid Kravchuk as the first President of Ukraine, a man who in recent past was one of the top apparatchiks of the Ukrainian Communist Party, responsible mainly for working out the party's ideological doctrines.

The second presidential elections in 1994 were more democratic by their nature and brought to power Leonid Kuchma, a former director of missile factory that produced ballistic missiles SS-18 "Satan".

Uncouth at first glance, Kuchma with the vigor of the defense company director took up the bridles of the country and quickly cemented his authority both in the East and in the West of Ukraine.

At the time, Leonid Kuchma somewhat resembled James VI of Scotland - I of England, then the United Kingdom (1567-1625).

Following the rules, which James described in his book “The True Law of Free Monarchies” the king always kept in contact with the Scottish nobility and acted as an arbitrator in the conflicts. This was how James VI repeatedly prevented the civil wars that had torn the country apart before.

And another point, James VI came into history as the Scottish king who had ruled the longest. Basically, this was the result of his pragmatic style of government, generous financial investments in the royal court and pensions he lavished on the gentry.

Kuchma widely used these methods in Ukraine: under his “rule” a powerful clan of the richest businessmen or so-called “oligarchs” was created, large industrial plants and factories were privatized, the country built a complex “walking-the-tightrope” policy with Europe, the U.S. and Russia.

In many aspects, Kuchma has achieved to be called the President of all Ukrainians, in contrast to the image of an exemplary Western political leader who had won the election as a leader of his party.

 “Kuchmagate” not only foiled Kuchma’s prospects of an unconstitutional third term as the President but also set off the chain of events whose climax was the 2004 “Orange Revolution.”

After the charges filed against Kuchma for master-minding the political murder of independent journalist Georgy Gonganze in 2000, which had been made possible after unauthorized tapping of President’s office by his bodyguard, Major of Security Service Nikolai Melnichenko, the country was teetering on a brink of a national catastrophe.

As a direct participant of these events I tried with chronological accuracy to describe the progress of Kuchmagate from its onset as well as the actions of its principal characters.

In this book I mention names of many people, whom I knew personally. I am sure many of them will remain in the modern history of Ukraine.

By now it became clear that Kuchmagate has paved the way to the victory of the “orange revolution” and then to the collapse of the “orange” idea.

The process of bringing to light in 2010-2012 numerous cases of power abuse, economic and criminal offenses committed by the leaders of the “orange revolution” had only exacerbated an already dim view the Western democracies took of the Ukrainian political elite.

The book “Kuchmagate and the Collapse of the Orange Idea” is the first book that examines the inter-relations of these events.



This book is dedicated to the memory of my father, my beloved wife Ivanka, my daughters Hanna and Tatiana, my friends, Ivan Plyushch, and all who are patriots of Ukraine.


Volodymyr Tsvil

2013


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© VOLODYMYR TSVIL 2013