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22.05.2004

Security services. Parliamentary oversight Mar.1999

   

A.  Security services. Parliamentary oversight

Political processes in Ukraine in the considered period were a kind of preparation of the future presidential election in October 1999; upon the whole they may be characterized as a set of measures for guaranteeing the second victory of President Kuchma. The unprecedented pressure was exerted on the Parliament and the opposition party ‘Gromada’ It resulted in depriving of deputy immunity for Pavlo Lazarenko, the leader of this party and the former Prime-Minister of Ukraine. A loud propaganda campaign was instigated in mass media, where Pavlo Lazarenko before the court decision was called a criminal, a thief, etc. The General Prosecutor’s office that carried out the investigation could not demonstrate any convincing proofs of Lazarenko’s guilt to the Supreme Rada. Nonetheless, he was deprived of deputy immunity and saved himself from detention by escaping to Greece and then to the USA, where he asked for a political refuge.

Agencies of the Ministry of Interior were activated in the Crimea, where under the slogan of the struggle with corruption and non-admitting criminals to power, several deputies of the Supreme Soviet of the Crimea, mayors of several towns and a number of other top executives were repressed. Upon the whole the situation in the Crimea has become such that the real power belongs to militia. Yuri Kravchenko, the Minister of Interior, promised that massive checks, similar to those in the Crimea, will be carried in Kyiv and all major regions of the country. It should be noted that any state official as well as any businessman have to violate the law, but the law-enforcing measures are applied to the chosen few. In general, since long ago it is impossible to separate politics and criminal activities, they mutually complement each other. The USS agency is used in the cases concerning the organized crime, where the amount of the stolen is especially large. For an illustration, we can mention an instructive story about the privatization of one of the giants of Ukrainian industry — Nikolaev alumina plant. Here collided the interests of various financial and industrial groups that tried to get the share holding as cheap as possible. The USS several times started and closed the criminal case on the illegal privatization.

The Council on national security and defense of Ukraine prepared a draft of the law suggesting the obligatory declaration of the financial sources by founders of mass media while registration. The Ministry of Information additionally issued the order which prohibits, contrary to the law ‘On press in Ukraine’, to register mass media by physical persons.

Special services were used for closure of opposition newspapers. We shall describe the closure of newspaper ‘Politika’ in Section D. Aleksandr Gorobets, the editor-in-chief of the opposition newspaper ‘Pravda Ukrainy’, was arrested and placed to Kyiv preliminary prison for an attempt to rape a woman-collaborator. The case is more than doubtful. Gorobets completely denies his guilt, his colleges believe that he was framed. The investigation has finished and the case will be passed to court in the middle of March. In Dnepropetrovsk the region prosecutor’s office started a criminal case against Vladimir Efremov, the editor-in-chief of the region newspaper ‘Sobor’ and director of TV-channel 11. Mr. Efremov is accused of financial machinations with very doubtful proofs. At first he was put to the preliminary prison, but under the public pressure this measure was replaced by the signed promise not to leave the city. All the above-mentioned mass media were financed by the party ‘Gromada’.

During the considered period the President’s edict No.1033 of 16 September 1998 was being realized. This edict ordered to create State Joint Stock Companies ‘Ukrainian TV and broadcasting’ and ‘Ukrainian publishing polygraphic association’. The first company, ‘Ukrteleradio’, was formed on the base of the national TV company of Ukraine, national radio broadcasting company and the concern of broadcasting, radio communication and television. All state publishing houses (except two) and all state polygraphic enterprises (56 all in all) were compulsorily united in the second company, ‘Ukrpolygrafizdat’. Many of the comprising organizations lost the status of a juridical person. In the process, region committees of information (former censorship committees) collected and corrected the addresses and polygraphic equipment of a few non-state printing-houses. A Kharkov official who phoned to our organization confessed that this checking was done by the direct order of the Ministry of Information. After giving our address we were checked by the tax inspection which elucidated for which purpose our polygraphic equipment was used. The President’s edict No.1033 and this action can be unambiguously assessed as establishing the control of the executive power over electronic mass media and polygraphic houses before the presidential election.

The Supreme Rada accepted edict No.1033 with hostility, since the Rada assessed the edict as the increase of power on the side of the President and Cabinet of Ministers. On 23 December, 1998, the Rada adopted the Resolution on the President’s edict which was prepared by the Committee of freedom of speech and information. This resolution affirmed, we believe justly, that the edict violates a number of articles of the Constitution and many norms of several laws. The Supreme Rada suggested that the President should cancel the edict, but the edict was not cancelled. Then the Supreme Rada demanded from the Cabinet of Ministers the information on the state of affairs in the information sphere and, having got it, adopted on 16 February another resolution No.430 ‘On activities of the Cabinet of Ministers and other bodies of state power for guaranteeing the freedom of speech and satisfying information demand of the society and development of the information sphere in Ukraine’. This resolution remarked that the mass media and their heads, which oppose the bodies of the executive power, are being persecuted by executive power, General Prosecutor’s office and some courts; the resolution also affirm that ‘the structural reorganization of state television and broadcasting, as well as publishing and polygraphic houses on the monopolistic principles is destructive’. The resolution added that ‘the Supreme Rada did not demonstrate sufficient insistence in the legal provision of the information sphere, in shaping state information policy and sufficient parliamentary control over the activities of the Cabinet of Ministers and other bodies of executive power’. At the same time the resolution criticized hackers, distributors of viruses and pornography in electronic networks (FidoNet was given as an example) and demanded the executive power to control the information sphere. The resolution required to create a provisional special investigating commission of the Supreme Rada for the purpose of ‘investigating the status, character and direction of the measures undertaken by the Cabinet of Ministers, central organs of the executive power and main prosecutor’s office, as well as the court practice concerning the information sphere of Ukraine’. This commission also has to work out suggestions and recommendations as to the improvement of the information sphere. This commission and the USS got the task to investigate the question ‘if there exist information technologies which can be used for creating a harmful psychological effect on man’s subconsciousness’. The resolution also contains an appeal for faster development of the draft on the basis of the state information policy and of laws on information sovereignty, security and related laws.

The tendency to centralize the administration of various security services remains unchanged. An expert of the Parliamentary Committee on national security and defense told the author of the present report that a draft had been prepared of changes and amendments to the Ukrainian law ‘On state secrets’. This law rules to disband the State Committee of protection state secrets and technical protection of information. These tasks shall be passed to the USS. The text of the draft is still unknown to us.

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