On January 5, the Ukrainian law enforcement authorities brought charges of smuggling, forgery and tax evasion against Deputy Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is believed to have embezzled millions of dollars from the country’s fuel and energy sector. At a press conference the day after the charges were brought, Tymoshenko–a close associate of former Prime Minister Pavel Lazarenko, who was convicted of money laundering by a Swiss court last year–denounced the charges against her, calling them a “brutal falsification.” The authorities subsequently denied reports that they had taken Tymoshenko into custody, but she became the subject of a criminal manhunt. Around the same time, the authorities launched a criminal case against Mykola Melnychenko, a former bodyguard to President Leonid Kuchma, who claims to have surreptitiously taped conversations in which Kuchma and his aides discussed silencing Georgy Gongadze, the independent journalist and Kuchma critic. Gongadze’s disappearance last September, and the ensuing scandal, which has been dubbed Kuchma-gate, culminated in a series of demonstrations last December calling for Kuchma’s resignation. Melnychenko’s tape was originally released by Oleg Moroz, the socialist opposition leader.