Journalist Slaying Linked to Ukranian Politician

A commission investigating the kidnapping and killing of a journalist five years ago has accused parliament's speaker of instigating the slaying, a Web site with the panel's findings said Wednesday.

Heorhiy Gongadze (search), an Internet journalist who wrote about high-level corruption, was kidnapped and killed in 2000. His decapitated body was found in a forest outside Kiev.

Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn (search) had "instigated the abduction," said the legislative commission. Its findings stemmed from recordings in which voices resembling those of Lytvyn, former President Leonid Kuchma (search) and other officials are heard allegedly conspiring against Gongadze, according to a report posted on a parliamentary Web site Wednesday.

The parliamentary commission also accused Kuchma and 16 of his allies and police officials, including former Interior Minister Yury Kravchenko (search) of masterminding Gongadze's abduction and death. Kravchenko, a key witness and reportedly the one given the order to deal with the journalist, committed suicide in March, hours before he was to be questioned about Gongadze's slaying.

Kuchma has repeatedly questioned the authenticity of the tapes, secretly recorded by his former bodyguard.

In an address to parliament Tuesday, the head of the commission Hrihoriy Omelchenko demanded Lytvyn's resignation and a no-confidence vote for Prosecutor General Svyatoslav Piskun (search).

Lytvyn, Kuchma's former chief of staff, dismissed the commission's report as "a provocation aimed at diverting attention from the real culprits" for Gongadze's death.

In the past, Lytvyn has dismissed the allegations, saying: "I wasn't brought up that way."

The reporter's death sparked months of opposition protests that ultimately led to last year's Orange Revolution, which brought pro-Western politician Viktor Yushchenko to office.

The opposition accused Kuchma and his allies of masterminding Gongadze's death, an accusation he has denied.

A month after Yushchenko's inauguration in January, prosecutors indicted three former policemen for Gongadze's death. A fourth suspect is at large and being sought on an international warrant.

Gongadze got into what he thought was a taxi, and then was joined by three others and driven outside Kiev, according to evidence given by the suspects.

The 31-year-old journalist was beaten and strangled, and his body was doused with gasoline and burned.