Ukraine Hits Out At Russian 'Danger'

KIEV, Ukraine -- Russian political interference and the lack of transparency around energy supplies coming mainly from Russia threaten Ukraine as it struggles with serious political turmoil, the head of the security services in Kiev has warned.

Acting chief of the SBU (KGB) Valentyn Nalyvaichenko

"We are a young country. For any country it is dangerous when domestic politics is being interfered with by foreign sources," said Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, the acting chief of the SBU, the state security service, in his first foreign media interview.

He also pointed to the dangers of corruption, weak institutions and a lack of co-ordination in pursuing big criminal cases.

His remarks came as Ukraine is embroiled in a power struggle between President Viktor Yushchenko and his rival, Viktor Yanukovich, the prime minister, in which Moscow takes a keen interest.

A 41-year-old former diplomat and fluent English speaker, Mr Nalyvaichenko said in the interview at the SBU's imposing Kiev headquarters last week: "I feel Ukraine's independence and statehood should be protected from any turmoil, domestic or external."

The road to security lay in domestic reform and in improved co-operation with foreign security services, including those of the US, EU states, Israel, Russia and other neighbouring states, he argued.

While Mr Nalyvaichenko, who was picked for his post last year by the president, was explicit about the danger of Russian interference in Ukraine, he was careful to avoid pinning any blame on the Russian security services or other state institution.

He singled out for comment recent anti-Nato demonstrations in Crimea, where pro-Russian sentiments are strong and where the Russian Black Sea fleet is based in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol.

There was no "domestic reason for such negative and active anti-Nato" protests, said Mr Nalyvaichenko, who, like Mr Yushchenko, is a firm believer in closer co-operation with Nato. "Dangerous" slogans were being used in Crimea and "false information" such as claims that Nato troops would be stationed in Ukraine.

"This is absolutely against the national interest of Ukraine. Using some so-called pro-Russian organisation in Crimea, politicians – mostly domestic – are exploiting this issue to boost their popularity," he said.

The SBU chief indicated he was aware of finance coming from outside Ukraine and said misusing political financing laws was "a little bit dangerous".

Those who broke the rules would be prosecuted, he said, citing the example of Proryv, the Kremlin-backed Russian nationalist youth group which had had its Sevastopol office closed by a court order.

Donetska Respublika, a separatist grouping in eastern Ukraine, where many Russia-oriented Ukrainians live, had also been taken to court.

Mr Nalyvaichenko also gave the example of Konstantin Zatulin, the nationalist Russian MP, who was banned from Ukraine after making inflammatory speeches.

As for energy security, the SBU chief said the key was greater transparency.

He promised that Russia and Ukraine would this summer provide greater clarity about the natural gas trade in which the controversial Rosukrenergo company plays a vital role. "Ukraine and Russia should make this situation more transparent. [We need to show] what the real prices are and what the real financial sources are here, the flowing of money, and risks of dirty money and money laundering. To know the real situation, the real operators, the real deal, is key."

The SBU chief complained about the lack of co-operation between state agencies, saying this undermined the rule of law, and called for reform and the creation of a new anti-corruption unit.

Source: MSNBC