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Last Updated: Monday, 27 December, 2004, 21:43 GMT
Ukraine minister found shot dead
Transport Minister Heorhiy Kyrpa
Heorhiy Kyrpa was a staunch supporter of Viktor Yanukovych
Ukraine's Transport Minister Heorhiy Kyrpa has been found dead at his holiday home near the capital Kiev.

The minister is reported to have gunshot wounds and officials said a gun was found near his body.

Mr Kyrpa, 58, appointed in 2002, was a staunch supporter of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.

There are no reports his death is linked to Mr Yanukovych's defeat by opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko in Sunday's presidential poll re-run.

A government source told Reuters news agency it was not clear whether Mr Kyrpa had killed himself.

Mr Kyrpa, regarded as one of the most influential figures in the current government, was named transport minister in July by outgoing President Leonid Kuchma.

He was a high-ranking official in the United Social Democratic Party and regarded as having close ties to Mr Kuchma.

Mr Kyrpa's spokesman, Eduard Zanyuk, told the AFP news agency he had noticed "absolutely no change" in the politician's behaviour which would support local media speculation that he had killed himself.


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