Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 219

Two weeks ago, a retired colonel from the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU),

Valentyn Kryzhanivsky, accused SBU chief Ihor Drizhchany of corrupt activities

ranging from election rigging to smuggling. The SBU denied the accusations, and the

whole matter initially smacked of ordinary revenge, as it had been Drizhchany who

sacked Kryzhanivsky from his SBU this past October.

Subsequent developments suggest that Kryzhanivsky’s demarche was not as innocent as

it might seem, and that his real target was President Viktor Yushchenko. The mass

media reported that Kryzhanivsky, after verbally attacking Drizhchany, survived an

assassination attempt and left Ukraine. Last week, a Russian newspaper published an

interview with Kryzhanivsky in which he, along with repeating his accusations

against Drizhchany, said that the investigation into the murder of journalist

Heorhiy Gongadze in 2000 was deliberately misled, and he questioned Yushchenko’s


On November 11 Kryzhanivsky told a press conference in Kyiv that the SBU has been

run by “a mafioso.” He said Drizhchany was involved in contraband; tried to

illegally withdraw several million dollars from an off-shore account belonging to

former prime minister Pavlo Lazarenko (who has spent the past six years fending off

fraud charges in Californian courts); covered up vote-rigging in the scandalous

mayoral election in Mukachevo in April 2004 (which many believe was designed to be a

dress rehearsal for the presidential polls); was involved in organizing an abortive

attempt to smuggle SBU general Valery Kravchenko out of Germany, in 2004 Kravchenko

accused then president Leonid Kuchma of organizing the shadowing of politicians on

foreign trips; and even illegally leased some SBU premises to private companies.

This list seems way too long for one man to commit. Kryzhanivsky’s revelations were

received with a high degree of skepticism in Ukraine. Later it was reported that

Kryzhanivsky survived an assassination attempt immediately after the press

conference. An unidentified man reportedly shot at Kryzhanivsky twice in downtown

Kyiv, but a bulletproof jacket saved him. After that, an individual who introduced

himself as Kryzhanivsky’s lawyer told the media his client had disappeared and may

be dead.

On November 17, the Russian newspaper Izvestiya published a sensational interview

with Kryzhanivsky that showed that the real target of his campaign was not

Drizhchany, but Yushchenko. Izvestiya said that Kryzhanivsky fled Ukraine on

November 12 “fearing for his life,” but did not specify where he was hiding.

Kryzhanivsky told Izvestiya that Russian secret agents last year foiled an attempt

by “Yushchenko’s friends,” including Drizhchany, to blow up an automobile near

Yushchenko’s office, which was aimed at “provoking an international scandal.” He

also claimed that Yushchenko’s face was disfigured last year not by dioxin

poisoning, as Yushchenko insists, but was the consequence of an allergic reaction to

a skin treatment, complicated by alcohol consumption. Kryzhanivsky also said that

the body found in a forest near Kyiv in November 2000, which has been generally

believed to be Gongadze’s body, had no relation to Gongadze. He said Gongadze’s

corpse had been burnt to ashes, and alleged that Yushchenko has been deliberately

misled by prosecutors. Kryzhanivsky also claimed, without providing details, that

Yushchenko’s hands were “not clean” when he ran a state-controlled bank in the

early 1990s.

Kryzhanivsky’s statements appear too sensationalist and dirty to be true. But they

are dangerous for Yushchenko at a time when his party, torn by internal differences

and attacked by old foes and former allies alike, enters the 2006 parliament

election race. It is obvious that the interview in the Russian newspaper targeted a

Ukrainian audience — the newspaper is quite popular among those Ukrainians, mostly

in the east of the country, who prefer to read Russian newspapers.

However, Kryzhanivsky’s allegations are not easy to discard, as he aims at

Yushchenko’s weakest points. Yushchenko’s poisoning remains a puzzle; Drizhchany’s

predecessor at the helm of the SBU, Oleksandr Turchynov, in September publicly

accused Yushchenko of failing to undergo official tests to find what caused his

illness. The Gongadze murder remains a heavy burden, inherited by Yushchenko from

Kuchma. Early this year he promised to the international community that it would be

solved within a few months but he has failed to deliver on this promise.

Furthermore, Kryzhanivsky hinted to Izvestiya that he is ready to cooperate with

Russian special services and pass certain documents to them. This is a thinly veiled

threat, as the Kremlin does not make any secret of its dislike for Yushchenko.

The SBU on November 18 released a statement dismissing the allegations made by

Kryzhanivsky. The SBU said that Kryzhanivsky had been sacked from the SBU because he

was suspected of fraud, and that he could not know the details of either

Yushchenko’s poisoning or Gongadze’s murder, as he had not been involved in relevant

investigations. But Kryzhanivsky has never claimed he was involved in those

investigations anyway. This will not preclude him from playing a part in apparently

someone else’s game.

(Interfax-Ukraine, November 11; NTN TV, November 11, 12; Izvestiya, November 17;

UNIAN, November 18)