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ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF MR. CHORNOVIL 
RUMORS PERSIST STIMULATED BY MINISTER KRAVCHENKO
DECLARATION OF A "LIMITED" INVESTIGATION 

US EMBASSY REPORT - APRIL 1999

KILLER AMNESTIED

======================== 

ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF MR. CHORNOVIL 
RUMORS PERSIST STIMULATED BY MINISTER KRAVCHENKO
DECLARATION OF A "LIMITED" INVESTIGATION 

The Ukrainian Weekly
Rumors of conspiracy inflamed by lack of 
criminal investigation into fatal collision
by Roman WORONOWYCZ
Kyiv Press Bureau
The Ukrainian Weekly, April 4, 1999, No. 14, Vol. LXVII
www.ukrweekly.com/Archive/1999/149908.html  

Extract

... shortly before midnight on March 25, 
rumors were spreading like wildfire through 
the capital city that the fatal collision was 
not an accident, but a planned execution of 
the political leader by political opponents 

...
 
The rumors were flamed further by the 
government's quick announcement that the 
investigation into the Chornovil death would 
be limited to that accorded a fatal auto 
accident.

The day after Mr. Chornovil's tragic death, 
Minister of Internal Affairs Yurii Kravchenko, 
in an appearance on Ukrainian Television, 
explained that the possibility of a murder 
conspiracy "is not and will not be 
investigated under the circumstances."  
He explained that the incident was an 
unfortunate accident, and that the driver of 
the diesel truck and trailer was a stable 
family man with a wife, a 10-year-old son and 
a 15-year-old daughter, who had lived in the 
same Dnipropetrovsk village of Oleksandropil 
for 12 years; a person who was not a hired 
assassin.

... 

The KamAZ driver had missed his turnoff on the 
two-lane Boryspil-Zolotonosha highway near the 
village of Horodysche in Boryspil county, just 
outside of Kyiv, and the truck was perpendicular 
to the road as it made a slow U-turn on the dimly 
lit road.

The driver of Mr. Chornovil's Toyota, Yevhen 
Pavliv, hit his brakes about 39 meters from the 
truck, as evidenced by the skid marks.  The car's 
anti-skid system did not allow the car to turn 
sideways, as could have been expected, and the 
vehicle hit the truck between the truck hitch and 
the front trailer wheels.  As the car slid under 
the truck its top was sheared off, instantly killing 
Messrs.  Pavliv and Chornovil. 

...
 
At a public meeting held at Baikove Cemetery before Mr. 
Chornovil's body was interred, several members of 
Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada stated outrightly that the 
late Rukh leader was murdered.

National Deputy Les Taniuk, a leader of the Rukh Party 
who remained with Mr. Chornovil after the split, called 
the incident "a killing."

National Deputy Vitalii Zhuravskyi, leader of the 
Christian Democratic Party, was even more explicit.  
"I do not believe the death of Vyacheslav Chornovil was 
an accident. It was a fair warning to those who have not 
made their choice on the eve of the election season."
 
PARALLEL ACCOUNTS
 
The Day www.day.kiev.ua/DIGEST/1999/13/soc/soc-2.htm  
  
06-Apr-1999
The Day
Questions Remain in Boryspil Car Crash
By Viktor VORONIUK
Extract

Questions remain about Vyacheslav Chornovil's tragic 
death in an auto accident.  This is hardly strange 
since our people are already used to hearing about 
the uncooperative being claimed by fate and parallels 
have been drawn between the fate of the Ukrainian 
politician in 1999 and Belarus Communist leader Petr 
Masherov in 1980.

... 

  Interior Minister Yuri Kravchenko told 
journalists that the assassination version "has not 
even been considered and nor can it be considered for 
whatever reasons."  He further explained that the KamAZ 
truck driver, Volodymyr Kudelia, was traveling on 
business from a state farm to Kyiv, that he chose the 
wrong road, realized his mistake, and was making a 
U-turn, which caused the tragic crash.  (One cannot but 
remind oneself that Masherov's Chaika also jammed into 
a GAZ-536 truck loaded with potatoes.)  The Interior 
Ministry says it has no evidence that the truck driver 
made the U-turn "on purpose."

... 

At an Interior Ministry briefing Oleksandr Shtanko, 
Deputy Minister, head of the Chief Investigation 
Directorate, and Oleksandr Bevz, head of Kyiv oblast 
interior directorate, announced that, although the 
KamAZ's head and rear lights were found to have been 
in order, they could not be seen in the onrushing 
Toyota during the U-turn.

...

Dmytro Panamarchuk, the only surviving Toyota passenger, 
said in one of his first interviews after regaining 
consciousness that the accident could have something to do 
with the presidential campaign.

During the previous parliamentary elections Rukh collected 
almost 2.5 million votes, placing it second among 30 
parties and political blocs.  Most of its support came 
from Lviv, Ternopil, and Rivne oblasts.   
 
... 
============================

US EMBASSY REPORT - APRIL 1999

THE KIEV OBLAST MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS IS INVESTIGATING 
THE TRAFFIC DEATH OF VIACHESLAV CHORNOVIL, HEAD OF THE RUKH 
PARTY.  THEY ARE EXAMINING THE INFORMATION CONCERNING TWO 
PASSENGERS IN THE KamAZ TRUCK, RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ACCIDENT, 
THAT ILLEGALLY TURNED AROUND ON THE ROAD AND THE VOLKSWAGEN 
THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE FOLLOWING CHORNOVIL'S VEHICLE BUT NEVER 
MADE IT TO THE SCENE OF THE CRIME.  [...] 
 
=============================
   
05-Feb-2000
KILLER AMNESTIED
By V. BARANOV
Russia Online www.online.ru/sp/chronicle-eng/5-Feb-00/101-eng.html  

Extract

KIEV.  "Amnesty has been granted to Vladimir Kudelya, the driver 
found guilty in the death of former political prisoners and 
chairman of the Narodnaya rukha (People's Movement) party of
Ukraine Vyacheslav Chornovil," Nikolai Pastushenko, special 
investigator for the Ministry of the Interior of Ukraine 
announced on January 31.

At the end of March of last year, Kudelya illegally turned 
his KamAZ car into the middle of the highway he was travelling 
on, as a result of which Chornovil's compact Toyota struck it. 
Chornovil and his driver, Yevgeny Pavliv, were killed.  

The members of the parliamentary commission to investigate the 
causes of the accident objected to the closed trial given 
Kudelya and his subsequent amnesty.  They are convinced that 
"minister of the interior Yury Kravchenko has hidden a number 
of facts indicating that the incident was the doing of the 
special services." 
 

27-Apr-1999
The Day
TRAGEDY:  KamAZ Truck Driver Fears Retribution
By Vadym RYZHKOV
www.day.kiev.ua/DIGEST/1999/16/daybyday/day-13.htm  

People living in Oleksandropil, a modest village in 
Dnipropetrovsk oblast, will probably long remember.  On the 
morning of March 26 word spread that the previous night their 
collective farm's KamAZ truck with three fellow villagers 
["with two fellow villagers, for a total of three villagers 
in the truck" is probably intended], while on its way to 
Volyn oblast, had been hit by Rukh leader Vyacheslav Chornovil's 
Toyota.  The accident still worries the village; over the past 
weeks the place has been visited by numerous enforcement 
officials.  Recently, the key figure in the tragic episode,
37-year-old truck driver Volodymyr Kudelia, returned from 
Kyiv after questioning, released in his own custody.

We met with Volodymyr near his house in a quiet village 
street, not far from the local graveyard.  Of medium height 
and looking tired, he was filling a bucket at a hydrant.  
Parked by the gate was the KamAZ truck.  It was lunchtime 
and Volodymyr had driven over to help his wife with 
household chores.  He listened to us gloomily and was 
silent for quite some time.  Finally he sighed and 
invited us into his small village home.  Inside the 
furniture was more than modest, yet the place looked 
neat and spotlessly clean.  Chain-smoking (the man had 
had obviously more than he could digest the last couple 
of weeks), he told us about himself and what had happened 
on that highway near Kyiv.

Volodymyr was born into a rural truck driver's family in
Mykolayivka, a village in Novomoskovsky district where Pavlo 
Lazarenko would eventually head the local collective farm 
(and where the post is still held by his brother Ivan).  
Before long the family moved to the neighboring village of 
Hubynikha.  The boy grew up there, was then drafted into 
the army where he was a truck driver with a motorized 
battalion stationed at Ussuriysk (Siberia).  After 
demobilization he worked as a truck driver in Novomoskovsk 
and Dnipropetrovsk where he met Olena, his future wife.  
Eight years ago, fed up with renting rooms in the city, 
without a home to accommodate the family (they had two 
children), they decided to live with Olena's parents in 
Oleksandrivka.  It would be easier to keep the family in 
the countryside than on city asphalt.

Gradually, their life took a more or less steady course, 
but then he was sent to Volyn and the most horrible thing 
in his life happened.  According to Volodymyr, they had 
driven there on several previous occasions, as the local 
farming Luhovske Co. practiced barter deals, sending 
truckloads of grain to Manevychi and bringing back spare 
parts for the tractors.  That time, too, they were sent 
with grain (the spring campaign had started and spare 
parts were in short supply).  There were three of them in 
the KamAZ cabin: Volodymyr at the wheel, Viktor Chernetsky,
 Luhovske's chief engineer, and Ivan Sholom, a tractor 
driver.  They set off around noon, March 25, and made two 
stops on the way for gas and lunch.  They reached the 
Zolotonosha-Boryspil highway at 11.30 p.m., past the 
crossing with the Kharkiv-Chernihiv highway.  It was then 
Volodymyr noticed the road sign reading "Freight transit 
prohibited."  Since the centerline was broken, he decided 
to make a U-turn.  He let a car race by and started turning 
with head, rear, and side lights on.  In the distance he 
spotted a pair of headlights, but Volodymyr thought nothing 
of it; time and distance enough to slow down and stop. And 
then the car smashed in between the truck and trailer.  
There was nothing Volodymyr could do.  His was a heavy-duty 
truck, fully loaded, and there were deep ditches on both 
sides of the road.  As a driver with 20 years of professional
 experience, Volodymyr Kudelia thinks that the man at the 
Toyota wheel must have dozed off or turned his attention from 
the road, and since he was doing 160-180 km/h the tragedy 
was unavoidable.

The impact was so powerful the Toyota bent the thick and 
strong coupling rod and got stuck underneath.

One of the surviving passengers identified himself as 
Udovenko [Udovenko was in another car] and said that inside 
the green Toyota was Vyacheslav Chornovil.  He had a mobile 
telephone, so they called for the ambulance and highway 
patrol.  They broke down the car doors and pulled out the 
driver and a passenger who was sleeping in the back seat at 
the time of impact.  They put the driver on top of the grain,
he was still alive, but soon his heart stopped.  They could
not revive ["retreive" is probably meant here] Vyacheslav 
Chornovil until a truck-mounted crane arrived.  Judging from 
bodily injuries, his death was instant, on impact.  The 
police took Volodymyr Kudelia to Boryspil for questioning and 
he spent several days at a hotel.  He says he was also 
questioned at the Kyiv City Police Department.  Finally he 
was released on his own recognizance.  He drove the KamAZ 
truck and trailer home and his fellow travelers, Chernetsky
and Sholom, left Boryspil earlier, after reloading the grain 
on another truck sent from Dnipropetrovsk oblast.

Volodymyr lives in constant nervous expectation, unsure of
what lies ahead, although he is positive that he did not 
violate any traffic rules (and the highway patrol examining
 the scene seemed to agree).  However, one of the 
interrogating police officers pointed out that two dead 
bodies were something to reckon with and that he should 
find a lawyer.  This last remark was an especially heavy 
blow to the family; the unfortunate driver told us he has 
been paid practically nothing by way of salary for the past 
four years.  Olena added that the family lives on what he 
can earn in the city and what little they can get from their 
vegetable garden and sell on city street markets.  Their 
children, 15-year-old Yuri and 10-year-old Anton, will need 
a hundred hryvnias each for textbooks next year.  Two 
hundred hryvnias.  Where will they get it, considering 
that there is not enough money for clothes and shoes?  
True, the management promised to let them use a minibus 
in case of court hearings in Kyiv...

No one in the village believes stories about a "contract 
job" or "planned road accident" and Kudelia's wife just 
smiled sadly, "Who?  Volodymyr?  He won't cut off a chicken's 
head.  I always do.  You've got to be kidding."

It was time to leave.  We shook hands in the yard and 
wanted to take pictures, but Volodymyr was adamant.  No 
pictures.  Never.  He even hid behind the KamAZ.  It was 
thus we learned that the family fears retribution from 
Vyacheslav Chornovil's associates.  We looked at each other 
and shrugged.  We left Oleksandrivka and rode back to Kyiv, 
careful to keep to the speed limit, reading every road sign. 
 
Rather than being extinguished by such seemingly-convincing 
accounts as the above, however, rumors that the death of 
Chornovil was an assassination continue to be repeated by 
influential people — as, for example, by parliamentary 
deputies Hryhory Omelchenko and Anatoly Yermak in the 
following appeal to the Secretary of the Council of 
National Security and Defense, Yevhen Marchuk, in which 
it is now claimed that evidence exists that the Chornovil 
death was an assassination carried out by a unit within 
the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVS):
 
The press should have been allowed to attend the trial of 
KamAZ truck driver, Volodymyr Kudelia, and after the trial 
should have had access to the trial transcript and all 
exhibits. 

===========================


END