Security chief sheds light on Russian intels’ activities in Ukraine


Russian intelligence services have long planned the annexation of Crimea, the head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), Valentyn Nalyvaychenko, has said in a lengthy interview with a Ukrainian daily. He added that the former Ukrainian leadership must have been aware of these plans. Nalyvaychenko said that the SBU had severed any ties with the Russian law-enforcement agencies. Nalyvaychenko also spoke about the SBU’s activities under his leadership, the service’s challenges and first successes. The following is the text of the interview with Nalyvaychenko, conducted by Ivan Kapsamun, entitled "About the ‘dividing line’" published by the Ukrainian analytical daily Den on 19 June; subheadings are as published:

Valentyn Nalyvaychenko returned to service in the Security Service of Ukraine [SBU] at a dramatic time for the country. After the victory of Euromaydan and escape of Yanukovych, the security service was faced with serious challenges.

First, it finally became clear that the famous so-called Yanukovych’s "rigid structure of power" was working not to strengthen Ukraine’s statehood, but to cater the interests of the neighbouring country [Russia]. The SBU had actually been destroyed from within, because representatives of foreign intelligence services operated in its structure.

Second, the incumbent authorities immediately found itself facing a new threat – the Russian aggression. Taking advantage of the moment, the Kremlin occupied and annexed Crimea, and then launched a sabotage and terrorist war against Ukraine in Donbass, destabilizing the situation in the south and east of the country as a whole.

Valentyn Nalyvaychenko has been occupying the post of the head of the SBU for almost four months. This is his first official interview with mass media, which he exclusively gave to the Den newspaper. We were talking about restoring security service operations, implementation of the president’s [peace] plan, traitors within the SBU, fate of the Crimean personnel, effectiveness of the Alpha unit, military counterintelligence, the Hague tribunal for Yanukovych and his milieu, banning of the Communist Party of Ukraine and other things.

"We have arrested 90 terrorists, 13 of whom are Russian citizens"

[Ivan Kapsamun] Mr Nalyvaychenko, the president initiated a peace plan to resolve the situation in Donbass. Will the role of the SBU in it be changed?

[Valentyn Nalyvaychenko] It is extremely important that Ukraine has a commander-in-chief of the armed forces and a legitimately elected president, who has resolved the issue of coordination, accountability and implementation of the plan to settle the situation in the east using the experience of other countries.

The president is a professional in the area of international security, so requirements for work of the SBU have been increased. This also applies to responsibilities of the management of the security service, the Anti-Terrorist Centre and all other bodies combating terrorism and corruption.

[Kapsamun] Does this mean that functions of the SBU will remain unchanged?

[Nalyvaychenko] They will be brought up to date. Of course, we were reacting and will continue to react to threats posed by foreign saboteur and terrorist groups, funding of terrorism in Ukraine by former senior officials… [ellipsis as published] More than 90 terrorists and saboteurs have already been arrested, there are 13 Russian citizens among them (in addition to mercenary militants, these are professional intelligence officers, agents). One of the latest arrestees from Kiev is an associate of the leader of saboteur groups in Horlivka and Slovyansk.

"Together with Yanukovych Moscow has been deliberately preparing for aggression against Ukraine for a long time"

[Kapsamun] Which were the first surprises and unexpected things you encountered after your appointment to the post?

[Nalyvaychenko] From December 2013 and until the end of February 2014, three groups of senior officials from the FSB were operating within the Security Service of Ukraine’s structure. During these months, all modern weapons, personal files, archives, every foundation of a professional security service, were transferred to Simferopol. In recent years, units designed to protect the Ukrainian state were filled with Russian agents and planned to shoot people and disperse [protests in] Maydan. Moreover, in February 2014, the management of the [SBU’s] statehood protection department, and other senior SBU generals, were planning this crime day and night in one of the offices in the city centre.

All this indicates the fact that Moscow, together with Yanukovych, had prepared for the annexation of Crimea and the events taking place in Donbass today deliberately and for a long time. In March this year, we have already identified separatist organizations which are, in fact, saboteur groups working on the territory of Luhansk and Donetsk regions. They had their own ideology, funding and even arms depots. The recruitment of mercenaries and transportation of weapons, including MANPADS [man-portable air-defence systems] was done by cells of the Communist Party of Ukraine, the former interior minister [Zakharchenko] and the former SBU head [Yakymenko]. And the former commander of the Interior Troops went as far as to engage in the mobilization of mercenaries in Russia’s Rostov Region.

In 2013, the SBU pretended that none of this had existed, or that it was normal. All of this was ruining the Ukrainian security service. The legacy in the SBU, which we are left with after Yakymenko’s control of the organization and the reign of Yanukovych in general, is a huge blow to the security of our country. In fact, the people who had allowed this were actually helping the enemy and are state criminals.

At the cost of enormous efforts, primarily by rank and file SBU employees, some areas were saved and new employees perform their professional functions. Of course, I cannot say that the service has been reshuffled by 100 per cent, but, for example, counterintelligence and statehood protection are the departments we can rely on.

[Kapsamun] By the way, does the FSB [Russia’s Federal Security Service] contact you now?

[Nalyvaychenko] At the moment, all contacts with the aggressor have been severed. Moreover, bilateral arrangements and agreements were terminated. Our "contacts" are limited to countering sabotage activities carried out by FSB agents.

"Ukrainian military counterintelligence has been 100 per cent reshuffled"

[Kapsamun] The work of the military counterintelligence was the one to gather many complaints. What is the problem?

[Nalyvaychenko] In the work of military counterintelligence we have completely changed our approaches and objectives. Ukrainian counterintelligence has been reshuffled by 100 per cent. At the moment, we are employing young officers there and changed the balance of forces and means in accordance with the location and actions of the armed forces. Military counterintelligence has been relieved of other tasks and oriented to counter enemy infiltration in the command of the armed forces and the ATO [antiterrorist operation] headquarters, that is, the structures that today are the key to countering military aggression. There were cases of treason. But at the time of war the enemy aims their main efforts at headquarters and military units. We are countering this.

What are we lacking yet? We need to build a new uncompromising line of fight against corruption. Unfortunately, the military aggression dictates different operating conditions. Despite everything, this week in partnership with communities in cities and districts we have formed public anticorruption vetting councils. Everyone is familiar with the facts of corruption in a particular locality – people have had enough of it, so they turn to us. The today’s challenge is to reshuffle the SBU directorate for combating corruption and help people fight against corruption, punish the corrupt officials and destroy the corruption schemes. In order to earn trust, we appoint new people, activists of anticorruption non-government organizations, including Maydan activists, to senior positions at the directorate for combating corruption. My position is as follows: if in a month the new managers have no results or the public has complaints against them, they will be rotated.

"Yakymenko is using funds from corruption activities to organize supplies of arms from Sevastopol to Ukraine"

[Kapsamun] How do you explain the surrender of Crimea, in particular Sevastopol? What is the fate of your personnel?

[Nalyvaychenko] The occupation of Crimea was carried out by military forces of the Russian Federation. As for the SBU employees in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, during the annexation of our lands a dividing line was drawn. The officers, who remained loyal to their oath and protection of Ukrainian statehood, were partially evacuated (we have given all hostels and motels of the security service to those employees, who have moved from Crimea with their families) and partially continued operating in Crimea under the harsh conditions of occupation.

[Kapsamun] Did the others betray?

[Nalyvaychenko] Yes, and traitor No 1 is the former SBU head, Yakymenko, who still in Sevastopol, using funds stolen from our citizens by corrupt means to organize arms supplies to Ukraine. The latest proof is a huge shipment of arms, explosives and money seized in Berdyansk: 900 grenades, 80 assault rifles, tens of thousands of dollars for agents and self-proclaimed mayors, all coming from Yakymenko. This is not just a betrayal, this is a disgrace in front of the whole world when a former head of security service engages in terrorist and sabotage activities against his own people. He will certainly answer for this.

Traitor No 2 is the former head of the SBU directorate in Sevastopol, who is closely connected with Yakymenko. Such betrayals hurt the service a lot. Everything they did in four years, all special forces fielded against us on Maydan were not just for show. They were preparing for a serious war against Ukrainians.

"Employees, such as Petrulevych, were not traitors"

[Kapsamun] Examples of treason, which led people to getting killed, took place in Donbass as well. Have you managed to clean up "the fifth column" in the SBU by now?

[Nalyvaychenko] Now patriotism is felt in the SBU, especially among young people. Over the past two months I received a lot of requests for transfer to Luhansk and Donetsk regions to fight against terrorism. Every week about 70-80 officers from various departments file them.

Those who betrayed and defected to the aggressor are people spoiled by corruption, they were appointed through bribes and relations with the Yanukovych family. Today, these people continue to be funded by the entourage of the former president. Now these traitors are committing crimes, killing people, taking part in destroying the economy of a part of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. In essence, these are looting terrorist groups and criminals.

[Kapsamun] Did you get to the bottom of circumstances, under which SBU offices in Luhansk, Donetsk and other cities in these regions were seized by terrorists? It was the first time of such a high quantity of automatic and special weapons falling into the hands of terrorists. Is it difficult to understand why the invaders managed it so easily? There were many accusations about it in the press against the then head of the Luhansk regional SBU directorate, Oleksandr Petrulevych. What is his fate?

[Nalyvaychenko] The enemy began to seize our directorates and units because immediately after the people overthrew the criminal regime the SBU began to actively arrest the leaders of separatists, eliminate their weapon caches.

Back then, in early March, we still did not fully understand how deeply the second echelon of aggression against Ukraine – Russian commandos and local criminals, was prepared in all the previous years. They are components of a hybrid war being waged against us, including an information one.

In March-April, in social networks groups from the Russian Federation and saboteurs present in Ukraine launched misinformation, lies, open provocations to discredit our employees, who opposed terrorists and separatists. In early April, I personally had worked in Luhansk for five days and I can say that such employees as Petrulevych were not traitors.

[Kapsamun] Why did they release the so-called people’s governor, Gubarev [Hubaryev], at the time?

[Nalyvaychenko] The preventive measure for him was changed by the court. Criminal investigations on cases regarding Gubarev are nearing completion, and regarding Klinchaev [Klinchayev] have already been completed. We will pass them to the court in the near future. If they do not appear in court, we will make sure to deliver them using force.

"Alpha is following orders to fight terrorism"

[Kapsamun] What can you say about yesterday’s and today’s Alpha [the SBU’s special purpose unit]? As you know, this special unit took part in the shootings on Maydan? What happened to its personnel? Today Alpha has somehow receded into the sidelines.

[Nalyvaychenko] The Alpha from February 2014 has not gone away. It is true that Alpha was ordered by the former leadership to go to the rooftop of the Trade Unions building against the people. The then leadership gave such orders in writing. The Prosecutor General’s Office ]PGO] is investigating criminal cases regarding the employees, while the former leaders are being questioned. As of today, the leadership of this special force has been changed.

Now Alpha is following orders to fight terrorism. Alpha was the first to go into combat with an armed group of saboteurs – [Russian intelligence] GRU officers of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in Donbass near Slovyansk. The new commander was wounded in battle. Heroes of Alpha, including Capt Bilychenko, died. Those officers who still remain in the ranks are performing combat missions at the forefront. The special unit is used to combat the most dangerous terrorists and saboteurs in the area of the ATO. Neither Alpha nor other military units are used against the civilian population.

What is happening in eastern Ukraine is a real military aggression on the part of the Russian Federation with the participation of criminals. This aggression had been prepared for years. I do not know what kind of Eurasian fundamentalism is in the heads of saboteurs and terrorists, but every day we, in fact, detain and interrogate cadets of Russian military schools, cossacks and Russian soldiers who come here to go on safari.

Now the government is strengthening military and special units in all law-enforcement agencies. First and foremost, they purchase body armour, ammunition, food. Where did the old ones go? Stolen. Everything that was bought for Euro 2012 at the expense of Ukrainian taxpayers, all modern weapons were looted and sold. By the end of February of this year, not a single set of modern body armour was left in Alpha.

[Kapsamun] Who was in charge of the antiterrorist operation until now? By law, this is supposed to be your deputy Vasyl Krutov, but how is it in reality? He had very little contact with the press, usually this is done by you, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and acting Defence Minister Mykhaylo Koval.

[Nalyvaychenko] A military general, who is an experienced person, is directly in charge of the ATO. We will not give the name. Gen Krutov heads the Anti-Terrorism Centre, which is an interagency coordinating body, which includes the Defence Ministry, the Interior Ministry, civilian infrastructure, local authorities, emergency services and other subjects involved in combating terrorism.

"There is no confrontation. I feel no political influences in my work"

[Kapsamun] There are many complaints about the lack of coordination between the law-enforcement agencies involved in the ATO. What is the reason for this?

[Nalyvaychenko] Coordination is a major factor in any special operation. There have been problems from the very beginning: both with coordination, and with weapons, and with communication. We started from a situation of complete ruin.

Today, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine have built up not just coordination, but a strict management structure of the ATO.

Peace and stability must be renewed in territories overrun by terrorism and banditry. Civilian administration, which will take control of the management and infrastructure of the region, must start working. It is the peace plan that saboteurs and terrorists are fighting against: undermine the power grid, water supply facilities, kidnap children, rob and intimidate the civilian population.

[Kapsamun] Appointments of heads of law-enforcement agencies were done on the quota principle, and that is why today we are talking about confrontations between the different bodies.

[Nalyvaychenko] There is no confrontation. I feel no political influences in my work. The 333 MPs, who voted for [my] appointment, do not try to influence the staffing issues in the SBU.

[Kapsamun] Do you feel a political game now that the country has the new president and personnel rotation is possible?

[Nalyvaychenko] No, I do not. There is no game. There is a decision of the president: one should work and fulfil his duties. There can be no intrigues here.

"If the terrorist’s position does not change, we will act harshly and without compromise"

[Kapsamun] The president’s peace plan envisages a ceasefire and creation of a corridor for the terrorists to retreat and surrender their weapons. And what if they will not surrender?

[Nalyvaychenko] We are talking about a general possibility of settlement and stabilization of the situation in the east of Ukraine. We speak and think of peaceful people, who need to be protected, so that they are not shot at, not robbed, or their children kidnapped. As for the terrorists and saboteurs, they should lay down their arms and cease fire unconditionally.

We are ready to implement the peace plan of the president of Ukraine. But unfortunately, neither terrorist, nor separatist or communist centres in Donbass, nor the Russian side, which continues to supply weapons, nor militants, including those from Chechnya, are ready for it. If their position does not change, we will act harshly and without compromise.

[Kapsamun] How long, in your opinion, can the process of surrendering arms take? Approximately how many terrorists can dissolve among the civilians, hide their arms and become guerrillas? How long can the process of cleaning up this category of militants take?

[Nalyvaychenko] The Security Service of Ukraine and the law-enforcement agencies realize that disarmament is not a one-day process. Those people, who have committed war crimes, will not stop tomorrow. The main thing is to do everything for the protection and defence of the Ukrainian border every day. When militants and military equipment is coming from the Russian side – it is not a border.

We must understand that our border guards are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. Today the process of blocking and strengthening the border with military forces is under way. But it is not enough to restore control of the border. We still need to defend it, regain trust of the local population, stop the inflow of arms and mercenaries from Russia. If Russia lets militants with weapons pass, we do not need such a border. We will have to build specialized facilities and completely block the traffic there.

"The strength of terrorist and bandit groups in Donbass amounts to at least 4,500 people"

[Kapsamun] How many, according to your data, armed terrorists and militants are there in total in Donbass today?

[Nalyvaychenko] We learn about the origin, quantity and location of Russian officers, saboteurs, mercenaries, traitors from the police and the SBU. For example, mercenary militants, so-called Kozitsin’s cossacks, number at about 300, criminals under former Ukrainian ensign Mozhovyy number up to 400 armed bandits. Collectively, the terrorist and bandit groups in Donbass amount to at least 4,500 people. And their constant replenishment from Russia is a key threat to Ukraine’s national security. This is what prevents us from resolving the situation and resuming a peaceful life.

[Kapsamun] Why are the authorities yet to introduce martial law in the east of the country?

[Nalyvaychenko] We have to understand and protect the people living in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions. Russian information influence and propaganda, hired illegal armed units, provocations and lootings are all a war that is now waged specifically against them. But people want to live in peace, have jobs, wages, and education for their children. And this is why we need to implement the peace plan of the president of Ukraine.

[Kapsamun] Do you expect the spread of acts of terrorism to other regions of Ukraine? Is Kiev well protected?

[Nalyvaychenko] We can locate and stop the threat after the terrorist threats in Luhansk and Donetsk regions are eliminated, and the supply of weapons, drugs, money and mercenaries across our border is stopped. Indeed, the terrorists who entered Ukraine involve former Ukrainian law enforcers and criminals from other regions in their criminal activities. The SBU carried out the latest arrests in Odessa, Kiev and Kharkiv. We arrested saboteur and terrorist groups that planned to engage in sabotage and provocations. We do our best to protect the country.

"The SBU has done its part in documenting the crimes of former senior officials"

[Kapsamun] Against the background of events in the east, information about the results of investigations into the killings on Maydan has somehow slipped into the sidelines. Why is this process taking so much time?

[Nalyvaychenko] The Prosecutor General’s Office is investigating the tragic events and crimes of the former government on Maydan. Investigators, special units of the SBU and the Ministry of Internal Affairs are actively involved in the investigation. The arrests of former leaders and employees of Berkut [riot police], the SBU and other structures are still taking place. Accounts, assets and everything that belonged to the corrupt officials and organizers of Maydan’s dispersal have already been arrested. People, who were involved in this crime, have been dismissed from office, interrogated and the fugitives are being hunted.

[Kapsamun] Is there enough evidence of the involvement of Yanukovych and his milieu in the shootings on Maydan and in Donbass for the Hague tribunal?

[Nalyvaychenko] The SBU has completed its part of documenting the crimes of former senior officials and their associates, and passed the materials to the PGO. Arbuzov and Klymenko, who created the laundry machine for money laundering and plundering of Ukraine’s budget, have been added by us to the international wanted list. The crimes of all senior officials – from the ex-president to the former head of the Ministry of Revenues and Levies have been documented, their assets and property in Ukraine have been arrested.

[Kapsamun] Did you register them attempting to get in touch with the "right" people to negotiate with the new government?

[Nalyvaychenko] I was not contacted, and they would certainly not make a deal with us. International sanctions regarding them are already in force. Now they must face the PGO and testify in court.

"We must ban not just the party, but also its ideology, and then have the criminals face trial"

[Kapsamun] Ukrainian parliament speaker has instructed the Justice Ministry with investigating the criminal activities of the Communist Party of Ukraine. Did the SBU hand them a base of evidence? What is the current stage of the investigation?

[Nalyvaychenko] We have already sent the materials of our investigation to the Ministry of Justice. With the support of Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko we established a joint working group, which is now processing the evidence base, so that all decisions are lawful and beyond any doubt. In my opinion, Ukrainian registration of the Communist Party of Ukraine must be terminated and then materials about illegal activities of this structure must be considered by the court. We should ban not just the party, but its ideology, too. We also need to bring to justice those Communist Party functionaries who recruit mercenaries in Luhansk and Donetsk, supply weapons and openly encroach on the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

Kapsamun] What further actions of the Russian state machine do you expect?

[Nalyvaychenko] I can say that whoever in the Kremlin was planning the hybrid war, the chaos and destruction of infrastructure and the economy of Ukraine, we will put a stop to it. The peace plan of the president of Ukraine, stabilization and implementation of peace initiatives is the only real chance to restore peace and stability in the state today. We must return the main thing to the people – I mean peace.

Source: Den, Kiev, in Ukrainian 19 Jun 14; p 6


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