SBU and democratic values


The Kommersant – Ukraine newspaper reports on the statement issued on Tuesday by the Executive Director of the International Renaissance Foundation [IRF] In it he reported that that several civic organizations in the Kyiv region carrying out projects financed by IRF had been approached by the Security Service [SBU]. They were asked for information about the aims and tasks of their projects, their financial component and assessment of their impact on the pre-election situation in Ukraine ((see ).  IRF explain the SBU’s interest as impelled by the wish to create “managed democracy”

The International Renaissance Foundation was created in April 1990 and is part of the network of Open Society Institutes created by George Soros. It’s charter objective is to provide financial and organizational support for civic initiatives aimed at the development of democratic society in Ukraine.

This is not the first foundation that the SBU has turned its attention to. As reported, on 26 June on the instructions of the SBU, an attempt was made to refuse Nico Lange, Director of the Kyiv Office of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, entry into Ukraine. He spent around 10 hours at the airport before his Foundation and German diplomats assured his entry.  The newspaper notes that the Ukrainian side later called the incident a “misunderstanding”.  There have been other statements as well effectively justifying the move (see and the links below)

“I think that the SBU wants to forestall or prevent actions aimed at the support of democratic values in Ukraine with which national democrats and the opposition mainly identify themselves.”, Yevhen Bystrytsky suggests. At the same time he thinks that with such actions the authorities are trying to warn the public that they should not interfere in the course of the elections and should concentrate less on monitoring violations. “In other words the authorities are consciously or subconsciously establishing a managed democracy”, he adds.

The SBU will not comment on the nature of their grievances against IRF. The SBU Press Service says that before commenting, they need to find out what happened, and whether it happened at all.

In the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Foreign Affairs the incident was called an “extraordinary situation”. “This is direct interference by the SBU in the activities of the Foundation. I don’t remember anything like this even in Kuchma’s time”, the Chair of the Sub-Committee on Eurointegration, Andriy Shkil (BYuT] says. He believes that if no explanation from the SBU is forthcoming in the near future, this incident may have an adverse effect on Ukraine’s foreign policy image. “What European standards can you talk of if the SBU bursts into civic organizations demanding explanations as to what the Renaissance Foundation gave them money for?”

According to Yury Samoilenko (Party of the Regions), Presidential Advisor on Enforcement Issues, Secretary of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defence: “The activities of international foundations has always been and should be under the scrutiny of the security service – no foreign presence should remain without attention”. He stated that he did not know the nature of the SBU’s grievances against IRF, however noted that as a rule SBU officers taking such actions have reliable and verified information. “There are many examples in the activities of the KGB and SBU when under the cover of civic organizations acts were carried out which cause not only economic, but political damage to our country”.

From the report by Yelena Heda

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