Human Rights in Ukraine. Website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
Politics and human rights

SBU attempts at spy-mania


In an article at UNIAN, Oksana Klymonchuk notes that when Ukraine’s Security Service [SBU] begins uncovering spying for another country, Ukraine immediately starts looking comical. Last year the SBU fought Czech “spies” who were in fact intelligence officers in the Czech embassy.  She says that everybody was well-aware that the whole exercise was in retaliation for the Czech Republic having granted political asylum to “several members from the Tymoshenko government”  (This was at the time Bohdan Danylyshyn received asylum – the author does not mention names. – translator).

Ukraine on average declares up to 10 foreign nationals a year persona non grata, but details are not made public, this being the same as in other countries.

Now, the author suggests, the SBU has begun playing spy games with the USA.

As reported, Volodymyr Strelko, a member of Ukraine’s Academy of Sciences and Director of the Institute of Sorption and Ecological Issues has come under scrutiny, suspected of leaking secret information about scientific studies linked with the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Station and the health of the Ukrainian people

Dr Strelko and his colleagues believe it possible that the Security Service [SBU] checks have been initiated by people wanting to take over the Institute’s property.

Oksana Klymonchuk, however, knows that the scrutiny has coincided with criticism from the US government of the actions of Ukraine’s leaders, in particular over political prisoners, and the IMF has removed to lend the government money, demanding reforms (the author says “democracy”).

The author is scathing of the SBU’s track record, and notes that it’s spy catching is also extremely selective.  The whole country sees how Russian propaganda is at work, how Ukrainian MPs head Russian centres with “an unclear” aim and openly speak out in favour of part of Ukraine joining Russia, not even concealing the fact that they are earning FSB money, yet the SBU is not bothered, she asserts.

It’s Ukrainian academicians who are supposed to be dangerous…

The author says that they decided to visit this den of spying and set off to the Institute.  They were taken aback to find, instead of strict security – for all these “secrets” – an elderly lady who asked them to wait while she herself went off in search of the Director. 

She took them to the Acting Deputy Director Volodymyr Brei.  He had, it turns out, been discussing the situation with other professors who can’t even understand where the rumours have come from in this “spying scandal”.  The worst thing is that all their work is paralyzed.

In response to all the journalist’s questions, they simply point to their Academy of Sciences Charter, Article 53 which clearly states that AS institutions have the right to carry out their work, sell devices, material, equipment etc, “on the internal and foreign market”.

Professor Yury Malyetin explains:

“International contacts are not only what we are allowed to have, but what constitutes our duties. We are simply obliged to maintain contacts with foreign academicians.”

The point about grants that they received is that they need to show that the publications are on open access, and no secret works are allowed full stop.

Any criticism of grants, incidentally, begs the issue of how any academic institution can otherwise exist when the public funding, always small, has fallen woefully behind increases in the cost of, for example, communal services.

The author notes that as well as the political interpretation for the SBU activities, there is also suggestion that a fight is on for the Director’s position since the Institute is very profitable. “In Ukraine they also fight for power using extreme methods, but so extreme?

Dr Strelko is supposedly to be returning from a work trip in the USA, but she says that it’s clear he’s unlikely to as he can expect to be detained by the SBU right in the airport.

The presidium of the AS is supposed to be appointing a new (or the old) Director, taking the view of the Institute staff into account.  There would seem to be only one candidate – Volodymyr Strelko who is being accused of spying.

As a result of this “spying scandal”, the Institute is virtually not carrying out it’s main work, testing sorbents in the Chernobyl zone.

Much abridged from the original here  Image from

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