Turchynov: Order to Crush the Orange Revolution Came with Kuchma’s Consent.

KIEV, Ukraine -- Following is an interview conducted by Ukrayinska Pravda with Alexander Turchynov, the head of Ukraine's intelligence security service - SBU (formerly known as the KGB).

What do you know about the facts cited in the famous New York Times article, that the SBU actually saved the revolution from the bloody finale when the Interior Ministry troops were raised in alarm and given an order to march on Kiev.

Certainly, everything written there is an exaggeration. Not everyone who portrayed their actions that way actually honestly performed their duties. On the other hand, efforts made by many honest officers to avoid bloodshed were crucial. They understood what would be the consequences if the first shot were fired, because we were also making serious preparations for resistance on our side …

Chervonenko claimed that opposition even had arms.

I don’t want to say that we were arming people, but there were military units ready to carry out orders issued by the Committee of National Salvation. I knew very few people who were ready to die for Kuchma, Medvedchuk or Pinchuk. On the other hand, there were a lot of patriots who were actually ready to sacrifice their lives to save democracy in Ukraine.

The Interior Ministry troops stopped only when the military people intervened: when the top brass of the Ukrainian army warned that they were ready to put themselves between the people in the square and the Interior Ministry troops moving on to Kyiv.

Only then did the former government and those who were trying to carry out its criminal orders stop.

Who, do you think gave the order to the commander of the Interior Ministry troops Popkov to march to Kyiv?

The order was given with Kuchma’s direct consent.

Who gave the order?

Popkov was acting under the Interior Ministry orders, so Mr. Bilokon must have been the one to give him orders.

What information do you have on whether there really were Russian Special Forces in Kyiv during the Revolution?

No, there were no Russian special forces. Crimean and Donetsk SWAT teams deployed at important positions and guarding, among other places, the Presidential Administration building were taken for Russian Special Forces.

Regarding the Melnychenko case, how do you, as the head of the Intelligence Service see the situation: his recordings were made with a stationary eavesdropping system in the President’s office left there from the Soviet times or he had a dictaphone or something else?

Analyzing the quality of the recordings our experts tend to agree that Melnychenko was recording using a device concealed in a remote control such as either TV or air conditioning control. Our experts come to this conclusion by analyzing the recordings by dynamics of volume change, by picking up such noise as a pencil rolling on the table, etc. That’s why we believe that kind of technology was most likely used.

It is clear that no one crawled under a sofa. If Melnychenko had to crawl under the sofa every time, that would have raised many questions among his colleagues. And such a sophisticated device as the one in the remote could have a duplicate, could be easily changed and charged again and again.

As far as the stationary devices go, which was reported were installed even during Soviet times, the secret service that “swept” all rooms in the Presidential Administration building after the incident didn’t find anything. Maybe the Department of State Security found some devices but we have no information on this.

What is the guarantee in terms of technical protection that a story similar to Melnychenko’s won’t repeat again?

Offices of high-ranking officials are “swept” periodically. The Department of State Security, which is also entrusted with protection of the President is responsible for this. The SBU is responsible for protection of information from intelligent services of other countries that might be interested in what is discussed on the Bankova Street.

The problem is that these days there are a lot of technical devices that can be used by foreign countries to collect information without crossing the state borders. It is the so-called radio-intelligence.

Have you found anything of the kind?

They are hard to find, because we are talking about powerful devices, satellites. Today the international intelligence community has made a significant progress. Now to collect information one does not need an agent in the high official’s office. To match the challenges of high technology we must have adequate financing, scientific potential. Even with our limited financing, compared to other countries, I believe we have a high level of technical protection of information.

Is SBU listening on other countries?

We are working within the law, which regulates the SBU’s activity.

Last week the speaker of the parliament Volodymyr Lytvyn claimed again, that he is still under surveillance and that somebody is still eavesdropping on him.

As soon as I heard about it on Friday I sent Mr. Lytvyn a letter asking him to pass the available information on to us, so that we could open a criminal case and conduct an investigation. That kind of surveillance is illegal because nobody can authorize it, because any kind of eavesdropping on any Member of Parliament has to be authorized by the resolution of the Supreme Rada.

Second, I asked the speaker of the Supreme Rada, who had made these allegations before, to strengthen his protection detail, to include the SBU specialists who were ready to neutralize any kind of surveillance and any technical devices. I am waiting for his answer, because without his consent I cannot dispatch any SBU officers to him.

Mr. Melnychenko says he sent you a letter with the description of possible provocations that Mr. Berezovsky is planning. You said you would check the facts in the letter. So, what is your conclusion?

We are still working on those facts. As far as I know the prosecutor’s office has called some people from Berezovsky’s entourage as witnesses. It is very important to hear from Mykola Melnychenko himself; I would advise him to finally come to Ukraine, because it is only here where we can really protect his life. His testimony in particular would allow us to make progress in the case of Gongadze.

Why isn’t he coming? Why wasn’t he interviewed in America?

There are a lot of personal factors. I think there are certain circles that want Melnychenko silent. They are the ones who are interested in that case never solved. Attempts have been made to hinder the investigation. From time to time, statements appear in the press that Melnychenko needs to be arrested.

You are talking about Mr. Sivkovych’s statements?

Several people make such public statements, which make Melnychenko unwilling to come back. A conflict that broke up between him and Berezovsky is not conducive at all… I am convinced though, that nowhere on this planet his life could be protected better than in Ukraine.

Do you think Berezovsky is planning some kind of escapade or he really wants to help?

I’ve never in my life had an opportunity to talk to him. I can only guess by reading the press. He declares that he wants to help solve this case but it is hard to evaluate all the scope of his intentions.

You were the person who visited the scene of Kravchenko’s suicide. Recently information has surfaced that it may not have been suicide.


They say the position of the body was wrong…

Only people who didn’t visit the scene could make statements like that. There are facts that that make us positive it was suicide: among them the place where Kravchenko’s body was found, absence of signs of violence. He was quite a strong man and it would have been very hard to overpower him and make him play along to stage this crime.

But is it possible for anyone to shoot himself in the head twice? They say it is impossible because of the pain shock.

Why impossible? When you are experiencing terrible pain, even if you are not trying to end your life you have a desire to stop this pain. That’s what Kravchenko did. Besides, there are cases when people shot themselves three times with a rifle and the wounds were quite serious.

Bullets that were extracted agree with the position of the body. Bloodstains confirm that the body was not moved. There is no evidence to claim that someone held him or that he was forced in any other way.

His daughter was walking outside and saw no other movements except when Mr. Kravchenko went to that shack. His house, like others in this elite neighborhood were under protection of special guards. No other movements of people were noticed – and it was early enough for everybody to see.

Moreover, imagine if you wanted to stage a suicide, do you want to make it that complicated? When someone stages a suicide they do not plan such things as the first shot that goes through soft tissues and doesn’t touch the brain. A shot like that would have caused an unforeseen reaction of the victim, great amount of blood and a danger for the likely killer. In that case the first shot would have been made straight in the temple. They wouldn’t have made it so complicated that the press now cannot stop talking about it for two months.

Did examination prove that Kravchenko wrote his death note himself?

Yes it did.

Was everything that was in the note made public?

Everything that was on a piece of paper in his pocket was read out by the Interior Minister.

The Prosecutor General Piskun stressed on your role in the operation when he was commenting on the arrest of Gongadze’s killers. What was your role in that operation, and what kind of operation was it?

Somewhere in the middle of February after a conversation with Georgiy Gongadze’s wife the President summoned the Prosecutor General and me and ordered the SBU to get involved in the investigation. We intensified our inquiry, got involved in investigation and in field operations.

We had a clear goal – to uncover all participants in this crime and to arrest them. We already had enough information about Pukach and his subordinates’ involvement in this case. They were the ones who were last seen pushing Georgiy in the car and driving away.

As soon as one of them was arrested the other two made an attempt to get away but were quickly apprehended by the SBU. We put them under complete surveillance and found out where they all were. Had we put this question off, at least one of the suspects could have left the country. It was a standard field operation; it was carefully organized and carried out on time. There was no shooting, no special effects …

Those people were arrested in Kyiv?

Let’s say it was there.

Mr. Pukach was then in Ukraine?

According to the information that we possess he disappeared at the end of last year.

Is he at least alive right now?

We hope he is.

Last week they reported he was in Israel. Do you think it is true?

We think he might be in any country but under a different name.

Do you think there is a chance the case of Gongadze may ever be finished, now that Mr. Kravchenko is dead and Mr. Pukach has disappeared probably forever?

I hope we will find him faster than those who are not interested in this case ever be finished. There is enough evidence to say that there are people interested in this case never be solved. If you add tapes and Melnychenko’s evidence to all this, the court will be able to pass a verdict and to punish the guilty.

Earlier in your life as a politician you directly named people who ordered Gongadze’s murder. You named Kuchma. Do you still believe that?

When I was a politician I was not a person responsible for legal definitions of an accusation. As a politician I could do that. I believe as a politician I spoke frankly and I had enough evidence to make that political statement. Now, until charges have been filed and the case is sent to the court, for me to make statement like those would mean disrespect to my office.

Have you ever been offered bribes in your new job? Interior Minister and Minister of Transport claim they have been offered.

Nobody offered me bribes. If they did they wouldn’t have left this office room!

Were any of your subordinates offered bribes?

We have a very efficient internal security system and we uncover those who break the law and those who disgrace SBU officers. People like these are brought to justice.

Mr. Chervonenko reported there was a special operation with the SBU to arrest a person ordering a murder of the head of the Odessa seaport, and this operation failed because the information about it was leaked …

I am not familiar with this statement of Mr. Chervonenko. If we were conducting the operation that person would have been arrested.

Has anybody been arrested by you for bribery since the new administration took office?

The trick is that any person can report bribery but it is very difficult to prove. You either need to be present when the money changes hands or one of the sides has to cooperate with the SBU to document the crime. And those who would agree to cooperate would have to give precise evidence in the court; they would have to say that “really I was given a bribe after a certain persuasion and by agreement with another person, or that I myself gave a bribe.” Many are put off by their reluctance to testify in the court or even by their name being mentioned in a criminal case. In spite of these difficulties we have investigated certain cases and have made arrests.

Is there any news about a story of extortion by aides of the Members of Parliament? In certain political circles it is rumored that aides to Mr. Shkil and Mr. Omelchenko were lobbying certain officials and for that they demanded payments.

I have to tell you honestly, there is no criminal connection between those aides and the MPs. We had those people under surveillance and were waiting for high officials to take bait. It was a classical SBU operation. Everything was ready for money to change hands – we knew the time and recorded all the particulars.

The charged filed against people who have been implicated in this crime are irrefutable and they practically admitted their guilt.

How was it possible that aides to two different MPs got involved in one case?

Not only these people. There was also a third organizer. Certain fictitious ID cards from the Cabinet of Ministers were used in the operation…

Mr. Shkil claims that his aide arrested in this case was 22 years old. How could such a young person pass for a lobbyist for government positions in the Cabinet of Ministers?

Those who supervised this group of criminals wanted businessmen to have an illusion of real access to power. They had identity cards, offices, access to government communication channels, etc. That’s why parliamentary aides were involved; they have small salaries but can move freely within government and parliament buildings.

I can only say this: despite the fact that these people were aides to MPs from my parliamentary block I gave the order to apprehend them because I don’t divide people into “mine” and “not mine”. Everyone should be treated equally before the law. Those who are in power are tempted more than the opposition.

Regarding the case of transit server in the Central Election Committee, who is going to be charged for that crime?

The peculiarity of this case is that all main participants in this case – heads of the CEC (Central Election Committee), its officials and high-level administrators – they were all first or second class government employees.

According to the Criminal Code we can investigate these cases once the fact of the crime has been established. When it comes to filing charges we are not allowed to charge government employees of the first or second class. That’s why we are transferring this case to the Prosecutor General’s office on Monday. They will have to file charges against the high-ranking officials in the Central Election Committee.

How was the transit server used from the point of view of technology? Was the information really channeled to the Presidential Administration?

Whether that data was sent to the Presidential Administration or any other building is immaterial. The data that arrived at the CEC server was handled improperly. There was an unauthorized access to the CEC data; high-ranking government officials were able to “adjust” it because the number of people who worked with it was limited.

There was no need to lay cables to the Presidential Administration or to the Presidential candidate’s headquarters. This information could easily be fed into a computer in the same CEC building and then sent and received on line. The “adjusted” data was entered in the CEC server again.

To hide the fact of the unauthorized access to that server and to delete evidence an attempt was made to destroy the server after the first round of elections.

Wait a moment, how were we going to have the second round of voting?

The second round was conducted with a new server. The SBU had to adjust its operations to it. Then they changed the method by which they were going to fix the elections. In the second round of voting they understood that using the server was too cumbersome and too conspicuous – falsifications were happening during counting, not during voting.

That’s why in the second round the method of falsifications was changed: they perfected their falsification techniques on the level of electoral districts and riding committees.

Has the SBU investigated the former deputy head of the SBU Mr. Statsiuk?

We are conducting investigations of certain SBU officials who are implicated in abuse of their office. It is normal – we need to cleanse ourselves. For the time being I am not going to name anybody who is being investigated.

When you just came to the SBU you said that you opened a case of illegal eavesdropping under Kuchma. Have you found recordings of your conversations in the archive?

There was no need for that. My eavesdropped conversations I could read every day on the pages of the website Agency of Tomorrow’s News. They would take my conversations, change them a little to make them funny and to create discord among the opposition members. At that time I asked the SBU to stop that, because they were not only eavesdropping but also publishing it on that website. The SBU’s reply was: because the site was anonymous they could not find anyone who was collecting that information.

Now we have done a lot to investigate it: we interviewed hundreds of people, also in different regions, and now have a clear picture of how they organized this illegal wiretapping. Because some high-ranking officials are implicated we are submitting this case to the Prosecutor General’s office, which is going to make a decision on those people.

Who from the new administration is wiretapped now?

Everyone is equal before the law and if anyone is implicated in a criminal case, then by the court’s decision we can do that. Unfortunately, today there is no established order in how this is done. Earlier only the SBU had access to the necessary technical devices – now police, tax agency, border guards, Department of State Security, Agency of Correctional Facilities and others have them as well. That makes it hard to control them.

Moreover, these days anyone can buy abroad the equipment used to wiretap mobile telephones. There are many big companies who manage their own security and have acquired, though illegally, these devices. Besides, anyone engaged in intelligence gathering activity has access to the equipment used in these operations.

The problem is that devices used to wiretap mobile telephones are very difficult to detect. They are designed to receive and not to transmit any waves – it works like an aerial. That’s why I cannot say that nobody listens to anybody. I can only confirm that the SBU is not engaged in wiretapping illegally.

Is anybody eavesdropping on you?

There are a lot of people who would like to eavesdrop on me but my office and communication lines are checked regularly.

Source: Ukrayinska Pravda