28 November 2000 was the day when the foundations of a young and fragile Ukrainian democracy were fundamentally shaken. The national deputies and the entirety of the Ukrainian population became aware of the records made by the former officer of the State Security Service, Mykola Melnichenko, which implicated the then President of Ukraine, Leonid Kuchma, in being involved in the murder of an independent journalist Georgiy Gongadze.
The tape affair, or as it became known in the West, the 'Kuchmagate', was an unprecedented event in the history of modern Ukraine. Kuchmagate and the collapse of the Orange idea is a story told by Volodymyr Tsvil, a close associate of the main characters involved in the scandal, who himself was directly involved in the affair. Tsvil provides a unique insight into the events that followed immediately after the outbreak of the Kuchmagate and reveals a web of complex relationships between major Melnychenko and a plethora of politicians, journalists, governments and NGOs who were keen to obtain the contents of these records and use them for their own purposes.
The story of Kuchmagate and the collapse of the Orange idea, however, is not merely a description of events which inspired the Orange revolution in 2004. Many Ukrainians entertained the hope that new people in the government could deliver their promises for a just and free society. These hopes were shattered by the same politicians' insincerity and personal interest in political expediency demonstrated during the Kuchmagate. The hopes of ordinary Ukrainians that justice would prevail were sidelined and largely forgotten.
Today, the Orange coalition and its leaders are forgotten, marginalised or even imprisoned. In contrast, the Kuchmagate affair is alive and to the present day is far from being solved. The main question of who ordered the murder of Georgiy Gongadze remains unanswered. In order to find an answer to this and many other questions, more details about the Kuchmagate should be revealed to the public. Tsvil's book makes one the first contributions to this cause, providing first-hand information about the development of the scandal in a clear and objective manner.
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