SBU “Prophylactic talks with journalists

In an article published on Ukrainska Pravda, Kateryna Kaplyuk writes that the Security Service [SBU] have had “chats” with journalists doing practice at Deutsche Welle.

She corrects the prevalent view of the SBU as being concerned with catching terrorists and corrupt officials. No, she says, some SBU officers are involved in “prophylactic chats” with people who in most cases are of no danger to state security.

As reported, last year the SBU came to fame or notoriety through its conversations with the bloggers Oleh Shynkarenko and Olena Bilozerska.


In September this year the first Deputy Head of the SBU, Volodymyr  Khymei announced plans to carry out such prophylactic talks with students, supposedly as part of the preparations for Euro 2012. 


There have, in fact, been other cases where civil activists and others have been invited for such “chats”. The number of those who simply agree without making it public is likely to be considerably higher.


Ms Kaplyuk writes that another target for such chats which the SBU do not broadcast is made up of people going abroad to study, work or for work practice. The SBU she says believes these people constitute a “high-risk group” from which potential spies could be recruited. Despite the totally Soviet logic of such measures, they do occur in independent Ukraine.


She says that in the summer she spent a month in Bonn working at Deutsche Welle.  On 27 September she received a call from a person who identified himself as an SBU officer, He asked if they could meet in a café to talk about the trip abroad.


During the meeting in Kyiv he told Kateryna that the SBU carry out “information-analytical back-up for the work of bodies of state power”.  One of the areas, which he follows, is Ukrainian – German relations.


He told her that the SBU was not interested in all those who go abroad, but in those who are there for some time. Of particular interest are people doing work experience at Deutsche Welle and in the Bundestag.


In parting, he said that if anything comes up to ring him.


It turned out that the same SBU officer had spoken with one of her colleagues, and while preparing the article she learned of another 4 people who had had such “chats”. Fearing bad consequences, those who were parties to such “chats” asked Kateryna to not name them or give details.


The SBU officially refused to comment on the given situation. At first the press secretary Marina Ostapenko invited the Ukrainska Pravda correspondent to meet her, promised to look into the situation, find out who the man was carrying out these chats. Since the promised call from her did not eventuate, they rang her over a week later. Ms Ostapenko then stated that they can’t find the person and there is nothing to comment on.

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