Monday, January 17, 2005

The Secret Police Who Saved their Country 

Amazing damn story in, of all places, NYT. It almost gives me hope for their future, at least in reporting about revolution and patriotism in foreign countries. Prepare to have your head spin around a few times: it seems the Orange Revolution was saved by the secret police, known as the siloviki:

While wet snow fell on the rally in Independence Square, an undercover colonel from the Security Service of Ukraine, or S.B.U., moved among the protesters' tents. He represented the successor agency to the K.G.B., but his mission, he said, was not against the protesters. It was to thwart the mobilizing troops. He warned opposition leaders that a crackdown was afoot.

Simultaneously, senior intelligence officials were madly working their secure telephones, in one instance cooperating with an army general to persuade the Interior Ministry to turn back.

The officials issued warnings, saying that using force against peaceful rallies was illegal and could lead to prosecution and that if ministry troops came to Kiev, the army and security services would defend civilians, said an opposition leader who witnessed some of the exchanges and Oleksander Galaka, head of the military's intelligence service, the G.U.R., who made some of the calls.
It's long, but I want to note just one more clip from down near the end. When, Oh Lord, are we going to get people with courage like this again?

Even as the election commission deliberated over Mr. Yanukovich's victory, Ukrayinska Pravda, a news Web site, posted transcripts of conversations from among members of the Yanukovich campaign.

The officials were discussing plans to rig the election, including padding the vote. One conversation, recorded on election night, was between Yuri Levenets, a campaign manager, and a man identified as Valery.

Valery: "We have negative results."

Mr. Levenets: "What do you mean?"

Valery: "48.37 for opposition, 47.64 for us."

Valery later added: "We have agreed to a 3 to 3.5 percent difference in our favor. We are preparing a table. You will have it by fax."

Mr. Yanukovich won by 2.9 percent. In an interview, Mr. Ribachuk said he gave the transcripts to Pravda after receiving them from the S.B.U., which had bugged the Yanukovich campaign.

General Smeshko refused to discuss the tapes in detail. "Officially, the S.B.U. had nothing to do with the surveillance of Yanukovich campaign officials," he said. "Such taping would be illegal in this country without permission from the court. I will say nothing more."

But a member of the siloviki, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the taping was illegal, acknowledged the surveillance but said it was too delicate for General Smeshko to confirm. "Those who did this, they did not intend to become heroes," the officer said. "They wanted only to prevent a falsified election."
I'll answer my own question. We'll get people like that in this country when we have people willing to close down the capital city with their own, orange-clad bodies. In the dead of a Ukrainian winter no less. Without them, none of this would have happened.

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