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22.05.2004

Security services. Parliamentary oversight Oct.1998

   

A. Security services. Parliamentary oversight

During 1997-1998 the strain between the legislative and executive branches of power, as well as between various financial-industrial groups and related political sides was steadily increasing. This opposition was, in particular, expressed in the activities of the President and the Supreme Rada of Ukraine to grab more levers of power, to get greater control over mass media, especially TV and radio, and to distribute the information blaming their main political rivals (mutual accusations in corruption, misuse of power and the like). The struggling sides tried to use the security services which, in their turn, tended to stand aside and not take the part in the political struggle. However, on the eve of the parliamentary election in March 1998 the organs of the executive power increased the pressure on the prosecutors’ structures, the Ministry of the Interior and the USS in order to use them for the removal of the opposition. It is the unwillinnless to take part in the political struggle that explains sacking the USS head Vladimir Radchenko on April 1998. He was replaced with Leonid Derkach, the former head of the Customs. The latter is an old friend of President Kuchma (when Leonid Kuchma was the party organizer at Yuzhmash plant, Derkach was the Head of the First department there). Along with Radchenko, ten out of 25 heads of regional USS Directorate heads were replaced during April, the Collegium of the USS was also substantially cleansed. Another explanation of these replacements is that the President sacked supporters of the former head of the USS and later the Prime-Minister Evgeniy Marchuk, which will be one of the main rivals of Kuchma in the coming presidential election.

The President’s administration did their best to prevent the appointment of Marchuk as the Chairman of the Committee of Defence and National Security, one of whose functions is the parliamentary control over security services. The Committee was headed by Grigoriy Kriuchkov, a member of the communist party of Ukraine, the former first secretary of a region committee and the former head of a department of the central committee of the communist party, a man without experience of work in special services. The Committee now abounds in representatives of left parties and members of Soviet special services.

The special services are used now for starting criminal cases against the firms and businessmen who support the opposition. So in the Crimea, the entire party was beheaded — the Party of the economical restoration of the Crimea, which is a collective member of the democratic party of Ukraine. The self-ruling bodies in Yalta and in Odessa was displaced, with applying cruel and illegal methods of investigation. General Prosecutor’s office was used for starting criminal cases against journalists of the opposition. The newspaper „Politika“ made public Directive No.04/122-98 of 13 May 1998 classified „secret“ and directed from the General Prosecutor’s office to prosecutors of some districts of Kiev with the suggestion to check materials passed from the President’s Administration and concerning the publication by the newspapers „Pravda Ukrainy“, „Vseukrainskie Vedomosti“, „Politika“, „Selskie Vesti“, „Tovarishch“, and „My“ of the information which discredits, compromizes and insults the President of Ukraine as a citizen and as the Head of the state. The letter contains the directions to start administrative or criminal cases according to the results of the checking.

Representatives of the opposition also assert that the special services are used for intimidation and even for extermination of inconvenient persons. So, in the end of July 1998 an attempt at the life of Sergey Odarich, the Chairman of the „Ukrainskaya Perspektiva“ fund and the editor-in-chief of the newspaper „My“, was committed. A stranger came up to him near his home and promised that Odarich will be killed if he does not stop his political activities. Odarich answered that they had nothing to speak about and went away. The stranger fired and hit Odarich on the hip. In Odarich’s opinion the idea was not to kill him, but just to intimidate. The only party interested in him, he added, is President Kuchma, since he and his newspaper have no other enemies (the newspaper „Den“, No.143 of 30 July 1998).

Sergey Golovatyi, the former minister of justice, close to the political union „My“, said in his interview on the radio Liberty that within the structure of special services there is a special unit whose duty is to exterminate those who are disliked by the top officials. As we have observed, there was no official reaction on this sensational disclosure.

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