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EX-PRESIDENT MADE HERO OF BIG-TIME THIEF, SAYS UKRAINE'S INTERIOR MINISTRY

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KIEV, April 18 (RIA Novosti) - One Alexander Bartenev received the title of Hero of Ukraine during Leonid Kuchma's presidency. The Interior Ministry knows the man as gang ringleader, and is determined to ask the previous President and Victor Medvedchuk, his chief of staff, what was behind the high award.

"Ukraine's Interior Ministry has a question to ask Leonid Kuchma, former President of Ukraine, and Victor Medvedchuk, his chief of staff: what had the former king of crime done to earn the title of Hero of Ukraine, and what were those high officers proceeding from in that instance?" the ministry public relations center says in a statement.

Alexander Bartenev, manager of a Feodosia-based petroleum product supply company, is involved in a case, currently under investigation, of commercial companies led by his relations misappropriating an area of nine hectares in a posh neighborhood near Feodosia, Crimean seaside spa. Bartenev has been summoned for questioning on the affair.

The ministry is determined to check another fact, too-whether Igor Bakai, former State Chancellor, is a Russian citizen.

"If it finds confirmation, the Interior Ministry will have more questions to ask Messrs. Kuchma and Medvedchuk: on what grounds Bakai, an alien, was employed on civil service, though the acting Ukrainian legislation expressly prohibits such employment?" the statement goes on.

Bakai was summoned for questioning on controversial money transfers to the Artek international children's recreation center fund. He failed to appear, and the Interior Ministry intends to address the Interpol to check on his assumed Russian citizenship.

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