Ukraine’s Interbank Currency Exchange Chairman Vadim Hetman was gunned down during the night of April 22 to 23 at the entrance to his home in downtown Kyiv. One or several perpetrators fired six shots at Hetman, four of which hit him. The authorities suspect a contract murder, but have no immediate explanation or suspects.
A wealthy financier, the sixty-three-year-old Hetman was also a powerful political figure and headed the Group of Independent Deputies in the Ukrainian parliament. A supporter of market reforms, he was a member of the Coordinating Council for Economic Reforms, and received the “Parliamentarian of the Year” award in 1996 and “Banker of the Year” award in 1997. In last month’s parliamentary elections, Hetman lost his reelection bid in his single-mandate constituency and challenged the outcome in court.
Personally and politically, Hetman had close ties with the reformist Central Bank Governor Viktor Yushchenko and with Yushchenko’s supporters in the Party of Reforms and Order. Hetman’s influence was considered a major factor behind the successful career of the much younger Yushchenko, who has recently been touted as a plausible prospect. Yushchenko yesterday expressed the suspicion that Hetman’s assassination was a purely political act. Prime Minister Valery Pustovoytenko described Hetman as a “wise man who did a lot for Ukraine’s independence.” President Leonid Kuchma has ordered law enforcement bodies to create an interagency group “comprised of the top specialists” to investigate the murder. (Ukrainian agencies, April 23; Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research (Kyiv): Research Update, October 13, 1997; and see The Monitor, February 4, 1998.)
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