Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 18

Last week the head of Ukraine’s parliamentary committee on national security and defense, Anatoliy Kinakh, accused the general prosecutor’s office, the Security Service (SBU), and law enforcement of beginning to act on the basis of political orders (Ukrayinska pravda, January 19). Kinakh’s concern was related to the tug of war and institutional conflict in Ukraine during its constitutional crisis, which is now spilling over into the field of civil-military relations.

Kinakh, head of the Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (PPPU), defected from the Leonid Kuchma camp to Viktor Yushchenko during the second round of the 2004 presidential elections after he himself obtained 1.98% in the first round of voting. In the 2006 elections the PPPU joined the Our Ukraine bloc, thereby strengthening the business component that preferred a coalition with the Party of Regions to one with the Yulia Tymoshenko bloc.

President Yushchenko has been unsuccessful in his attempts to place the security forces under democratic control. Under the reformed constitution, the president controls the appointments of the SBU chairman, prosecutor general, National Security and Defense Council (NRBO) secretary, and foreign and defense ministers.

Surprisingly, the first two positions have been given to individuals who turned out to be not fully loyal to the president or, in the case of Svyatoslav Piskun (December 2004-October 2005), only there to defend the granting of immunity to Kuchma and other high ranking officials. Foreign Minister Tarasyuk was unconstitutionally dismissed in December (see EDM, January 24) and the NRBO was given to the head of the Industrial Union of Donbas, who has little experience in international affairs. President Yushchenko lost control over the Interior Ministry (MVS) when his candidate, Yuriy Lutsenko, was removed after Our Ukraine went into opposition to the Anti-Crisis coalition.

The SBU never fully came under Yushchenko’s control after he took office in January 2005. The SBU’s high involvement in corruption and its links to local political and business elites undoubtedly prevented this smooth transition to the Orange administration.

The presidential secretariat has understood the importance of reforming the SBU yet been unable to put forward a concrete strategy (Ukrayinska pravda, December 9, 2006). Parliament’s ruling coalition is also proving to be obstructive to reforms. Yushchenko has called for the creation of a “National Commission on Reforming the SBU” (Ukrayinska pravda, December 11, 2006).

In an attempt to place loyal cadres in the senior ranks of the SBU, Yushchenko appointed Hennadiy Moskal as its deputy head on January 9. This is Moskal’s fourth position in less than two years, during which he has moved from governor of Luhansk and Trans-Carpathia, to deputy head of the MVS, and most recently the president’s representative in the Crimea.

The biggest blows to Yushchenko’s authority have come in the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the government, and the MVS, where personnel changes have been approved that threaten the democratic gains of the Orange Revolution. Nestor Shufrych, a leading member of the Social Democratic Party-United (SDPUo), whose reputation is stained by corruption, election fraud, and the use of antagonistic rhetoric against his opponents, was appointed minister of emergency situations. Shufrych was brought back from the political wilderness as a Crimean Supreme Soviet deputy after the SDPUo failed to enter the current parliament.

Previously SBU chairman, MVS head, and NRBO secretary, Volodymyr Radchenko was appointed deputy prime minister on January 12 after five months as Prime Minister Yanukovych’s adviser. Radchenko told parliament that he would assist in coordinating the security forces, a step that would bring him into conflict with the NRBO, which has the same function at the president’s behest.

Radchenko’s background was in the Soviet KGB, which he joined in 1972 at a time of widespread arrests of Ukrainian dissidents and purges of cultural elites following the dismissal of Communist Party of Ukraine secretary Petro Shelest. Former dissident Volodymyr Malynkovych described Radchenko as somebody who “repressed dissidents, those who fought for human rights, democracy, and Ukraine’s freedom” (Ukrayinska pravda, January 12).

The Socialist Party (SPU) in the governing coalition agreed to support the removal of Lutsenko as MVS head only if it obtained this ministry. Lutsenko was a long time SPU member until his resignation from the party in protest of its defection from the Orange camp to Yanukovych.

MVS head Vasyl Tsushko has installed new deputies who have poor reputations from the Kuchma era while also demanding that regional MVS chiefs with Orange sympathies be transferred to other duties. These include Mykola Plekhanov who, as head of the Sumy oblast MVS, sent police units against students marching on Kyiv in summer 2004, and Vasyl Marmazov from the Communist Party (Ukrayinska pravda, December 12, 2006, January 18).

The most criticized appointment as deputy head of the MVS and head of the MVS General Staff has been that of Serhiy Popkov, who was commander of MVS Internal Troops from November 2004-February 2005.

On November 28, 2004, Popkov, on the instructions of then-president Kuchma, Prime Minister Yanukovych and MVS Minister Mykola Bilokin (who remains in exile in Russia after fleeing criminal charges) dispatched MVS troops with live ammunition to central Kyiv to suppress the Orange Revolution. MVS troops only returned to their barracks after high-level diplomatic intervention from the United States, encountering blocked roads leading into Kyiv, and open support given to the protestors by military ground forces.

In a rare display of unity the Tymoshenko Bloc, Our Ukraine, and Yushchenko protested the return of Popkov to the MVS. Parliamentary speaker Moroz warned that public opinion should have been taken into account when making this decision (Ukrayinska pravda, January 11, 12).

Prime Minister Yanukovych meanwhile, described Popkov as “an expert of the highest kind who commands great respect.” Yanukovych continued, “There was never any infringements on his part throughout his entire career during which he worked in a qualitative manner” (Ukrayinska pravda, January 12).