Ukraine has just celebrated thirteen years of independence, ten years of President Leonid Kuchma and victory at the Eurovision Song Contest for Ruslana’s song Wild Dances. The capital Kiev was also buzzing with rumours that Kuchma would resign before the election due on October 31, copying the former Russian president Boris Yeltsin’s approach – a discredited president granting his prime minister a few months as his chosen successor and sufﬁcient publicity for a probable free- ride to victory.
Kuchma, however, is more discredited than Yeltsin ever was. First came the Gongadze scandal in September 2000, the gruesome death of an opposition journalist. Then the Melnychenko tapes secretly recorded in the president’s ofﬁce, apparently proving his complicity in the Gongadze murder – but this was only the tip of a very large iceberg.