Ukrainian Forces Test Their Strength

KIEV, Ukraine -- A major scandal is brewing in Kiev involving the leaders of Ukraine's Interior Ministry. On Monday evening, First Deputy Interior Minister Aleksandr Fokin publicly accused his boss of ordering his telephone conversations tapped. Minister Yury Lutsenko yesterday denied these accusations and said he would seek his deputy's dismissal. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has the final say in the dispute.

First Deputy Interior Minister of Ukraine Aleksandr Fokin

Aleksandr Fokin's claim made on Ukraine's Channel 5 television on Monday evening had the effect of an exploding bomb. With no fear of airing his dirty laundry in public, Fokin went on TV to attack his immediate superior. “I have information that for a long time I and other deputy ministers have been subject to wiretaps on the minister's orders. Furthermore, I'm waiting for open provocations from the police who are directly under the minister. They've been illegally listening to my conversations with deputies and ministers. These are telephones that should not be tapped, and I'm not talking about cell phones or home phones,” Fokin said.

In stating his version of the causes of the dispute with Yury Lutsneko, Fokin, who is responsible for financial, material, and human resources in the Interior Ministry, noted that “many people dislike my position on the inviolability of the ministry's resource base.” He also recalled that he was appointed to his position by President Yushchenko, whom he had already advised of what he considered to be Lutsenko's illegal actions.

Lutsenko's response was not long in coming. At a press conference in Kiev yesterday, Lutsenko denied the accusations against him and advised that back on June 17 he had submitted a request for Fokin's dismissal. Lukin gave his lack of organizational skills and use of official duties in his family's interests as the reasons for getting rid of the first deputy minister. The minister said that his deputy used an official car for personal purposes and lobbied the interests of his company. According to the minister, he had pointed out the deficiencies of his deputy's work to him, but Fokin had not made the appropriate conclusions. The interior minister did not rule out the possibility of initiating a criminal case against Fokin. In conclusion, he expressed confidence that President Yushchenko would sign the request for Fokin's dismissal. “If he doesn't sign, I'll cooperate with him and hold discussions with him,” the minister noted.

Yushchenko must now become the arbitrator in the dispute between the two top officials in the Ukrainian power ministry.

Source: Kommersant