Corruption Charges against Kuchma Probed; Ukraine Leader Accused of Power abuse.(WORLD)
Byline: Natalia A. Feduschak, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
KIEV - A judge yesterday ordered prosecutors to open a criminal investigation of President Leonid Kuchma after opposition charges of corruption and abuse of power.
Judge Yury Vasylenko of Kiev's appellate court told a news conference that he began the case after reviewing charges made by opposition leaders.
"The president can't be suspected of committing crimes for a long time," Judge Vasylenko told a news conference. "The best way is to know if the president is to blame or not to blame."
Opposition leaders attended Judge Vasylenko's news conference, where they repeated calls for Mr. Kuchma to resign.
"The person who is under the investigation should not carry on working. He should step down," Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko said.
"The fact that a criminal case has been opened shows that we have taken a step towards victory," he said.
Separately, U.S. and British investigators fanned out across the country to investigate charges that Ukraine sold an advanced radar system to Iraq.
Investigators were to visit facilities where components of the early-warning Kolchuga radar system are produced.
Before the visit, Ukrainian officials pledged unprecedented access in allowing inspectors to visit military sites and in reviewing related documents.
The joint investigative team is composed of 13 experts from the State Department, Pentagon and the British Defense Ministry. They are being assisted by 14 Ukrainian officials.
Mr. Kuchma told a news conference last week he "would never give an order to supply arms to Iraq, under any circumstances. …