Investigators Summon Ex-Security Chief Over Illicit Weapons Deals

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian investigators have summoned the former head of the security service for questioning over his alleged involvement in illicit weapons deals, the Prosecutor General's office said Aug. 10 in a statement.

Ex-SBU Head Ihor Smeshko

Ihor Smeshko, who headed the Ukrainian State Security agency (SBU) in 2003-2005, could not be immediately reached for comment, and the statement gave no further details.

In June, Prosecutor General Svyatoslav Piskun said Smeshko and two other former officials with the Defense Ministry's intelligence branch were allegedly involved in illegal weapons sales abroad.

After the 1991 Soviet collapse, Ukraine inherited some 2 million tons of ammunition, a huge quantity of weapons and a sizable military industry.

Under former President Leonid Kuchma, Ukraine gained notoriety for its murky multi-million-dollar weapons deals that spanned from small-arms sales to African and Balkan countries to exports of nuclear-capable cruise missiles to Iran and China.

Security officials recently revealed that in May, military officials and businessmen involved in weapons decommissioning deliberately set a western Ukrainian ammunition depot on fire to cover up an illegal trade deal. Nine people were injured, one seriously, while fighting that fire.

Source: AP