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UCU: Call for new mode of relations between academic institutions and the SBU

08.10.2010 |

The Ukrainian Catholic University has published an open appeal to academic and research institutes calling for a new mode of relations with the Security Service [SBU]. This, it says, must be based on respect for university autonomy, free access for academic staff and students to archival material, freedom in interpreting material researched and researchers’ responsibility for academic honesty in the use of such material. 

The appeal dated 7 October 2010 and signed by UCU Rector Father Boris Gudziak explains:

“In October 2009 the Ukrainian Catholic University as represented by its Institute for Ecumenical Studies began work on preparing a draft Agreement between UCU and the Security Service of Ukraine [SBU] regarding extending access of UCU students and academic staff to archival material held by the SBU for their scholarly analysis and publication. This was a period when the SBU had a policy of openness and easing of access to previously classified documents, including those on the crimes of two totalitarian regimes and repression against religious communities and believers in Ukraine in the XX century.

Since then there have been many changes in Ukraine: the President of the country and the Head of the SBU have changed, as has the SBU policy on archival material, with this resulting in a reduction in access to them. Furthermore, the SBU, headed by Valery Khoroshkovsky has resorted to show repressive measures against historian Ruslan Zabily and other employees of the Lviv Museum “Tyurma na Lonskoho”, accusing them of “unauthorized gathering of information constituting state secrets in order to pass them to third parties”, confiscating information storage devices belonging to them and even resorting to temporary detention in the case of Zabily. The UCU community has in various ways shown solidarity with their research colleagues whose persecution we consider inadmissible in a democratic country.

Over the last few days we were telephoned from the office of the Head of the SBU and informed that Mr Khoroshkovsky is willing to sign the above-mentioned draft Agreement between the Security Service and the Ukrainian Catholic University and would like to do this in person in our University.

UCU expresses its gratitude to Mr Khoroshkovsky for his willingness to sign the proposed Agreement at the highest level and affirms its wish to sign it. UCU confirms also its previously stated readiness to foster the development in Ukraine of a new model of relations between the SBU and research centres. At the same time UCU is not seeking any preferential treatment for itself and would like to see the experience it has gained generalized and extended to all academic and academic – research institutions which would like this.

UCU believes that such a model should include the following principles:

-          autonomy inherent in a democratic society for universities, a concept of which, developed by a group of Ukrainian universities, was put forward for the consideration of the relevant state structures;

-          free access by scholars and students to archival material within the jurisdiction of the SBU (aside from material constituting a state secret);

-          academic freedom, including freedom regarding interpretation of the material studied;

-          responsibility of the researchers for academic honesty in the use of this material, as well as for properly looking after them.

If the present leadership of the SBU shares our conviction regarding the importance of the above-cited principles and is willing to extend the experience now gained to all universities and research centres in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Catholic University in its turn will happily sign the Agreement prepared and will work towards further development of mutually beneficial cooperation between the State and academic institutions.

Rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University

Father Boris Gudziak

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