Russian military aggression in Ukraine has highlighted the security issues of the country to an unprecedented extent. All Ukrainian security agencies have now to actually show their efficiency and professionalism. Clearly, the current Ukrainian leadership’s tactics is to evade a direct military conflict with the Russians, who after all designed their operation to achieve this very objective. However, the security agencies have a lot of other work that does not involve the use of armed forces. As an example, we can cite the arrest and punishment of former officials who gave the orders to kill people during the recent mass protests. It has been almost two weeks since the change of power, but no high-ranking official has been arrested yet, not to mention former president Viktor Yanukovych.
The Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) is to blame, too. Yes, one can recognize that security agencies’ leaders, including the head of the SSU, were replaced very recently, but when there are no arrests, there are questions about the agency’s professionalism. Perhaps, lack of arrests has some as of yet unknown reasons, but we will focus on a real problem, which was sustained destruction of the SSU by converting it into a private weapon and tool of corrupt politicians. Its newly appointed head Valentyn Nalyvaichenko discussed this very topic at his first briefing on March 4.
“My strong belief is that corruption has destroyed the law-enforcement system,” Nalyvaichenko said. “It engulfed the SSU, too. Total corruption characterized the previous leadership. In fact, the former heads of law-enforcement agencies were leaders of criminal gangs of corrupt officials. It can be shown even in this building [the SSU office in Volodymyrska Street. – Ed.], where the service’s former head Oleksandr Yakymenko built a personal apartment with a spa and other luxuries. These leaders had opened accounts abroad, where they transferred misappropriated money. These assets are now being frozen.”
We have a lot of questions to the SSU head that arose recently. Short answers to these questions are offered below:
“We have closed all 10 criminal proceedings which had been launched by the previous leadership against peaceful protesters. We provide all materials on illegal activities now investigated by the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO), from psychological portraits of protesters to use of snipers as directed by the former commander-in-chief of the armed forces;
“As of February 4, we have launched 11 criminal cases within the competence of the SSU according to the new Criminal Procedure Code. Most of them are related to encroachments on the territorial integrity and the seizure of state power. This, in particular, includes the seizure of power in an armed or semi-armed way in Crimea and some other regions of our state;
“The PGO has organized a manhunt for former top officials and is directing it. The SSU is executing the PGO orders, and I am personally responsible for the manhunt’s lawfulness and speed;
“I flew to Crimea with Arsen Avakov on the night of February 23. We started an urgent operation to detain former president Viktor Yanukovych and bring him before the court for the determination of a preventive measure. Within 20 minutes of our departure, Yanukovych changed his ground transportation route. We were able to block the Belbek airport overnight and prevent him from flying out of it. By 4 a.m. of February 24, Yanukovych’s guards returned and handed their weapons in. Those guards, who had not handed weapon in and left with him, disappeared in the direction of Sevastopol. Groups of detention were ready to apprehend Yanukovych, but he never showed up in state residences which were prepared for him. It was in Sevastopol that traces of former president Yanukovych disappeared. This is a hard question: who brought him from Sevastopol to Rostov-on-Don?”