The reform of the SBU: experts told, what should be the secret service

On the 25th anniversary of the creation of the security Service of Ukraine (SBU), which was celebrated in March, the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has promised to radically reform the Agency.

In a speech during the celebrations in the center of special operations in the Kiev region, then it is assured that already soon the individual functions of the SBU will be transferred to other law enforcement agencies: National anti-corruption Bureau (NAB), State Bureau of investigation (RRT) and the National police.

But SBU will remain the main counter-intelligence Agency of the country, the President said.

According to him, in the near future the Council of national security and defense will consider the concept of reforming of service prepared in accordance with NATO standards. Since this topic has disappeared from view of the public attention, but in the EU it is not forgotten.

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This week, the head of the EU delegation in Ukraine Hugh Mingarelli decided to remind the Ukrainian authorities about the promised. “SBU largely unreformed. It is crucial to ensure that the SBU is focused on counterintelligence and counter terrorism, and to cease activities that are assigned (different) law enforcement authorities,” said Mingarelli, adding that one of such activities is the fight against corruption.

Service “all-rounder”

Because the SBU you must get rid of inappropriate functions, I agree even some former officers. So the ex-Deputy Chairman of the SBU, now a member of the Advisory Board of the Kiev Center of researches of army, conversion and disarmament Alexander Skipalsky recalls in this context the struggle against smuggling and organized crime.

According to him, such crimes should be interested in the secret service only because they are a breeding ground for intelligence work by foreign intelligence services. “But the fight against these crimes should not be the responsibility of the SBU,” – said the expert.

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This is the opinion and chief expert group “anti-corruption reform” Reanimation package of reforms Alexander Semenov. According to him, the security Service can not engage in corruption due to the fact that most of them are simply not included in the scope of responsibility of the SBU and its staff have sufficient competence for professional investigations, especially in the case when we are talking about offences in the financial sphere. “And despite this, they record the proceedings on the crimes that can’t be untried,” – says Leonov. This “Amateur” has its consequences.

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According to the Executive Director of the Kiev Center for economic strategy Gleb Vyshlinsky, security service sometimes acts as an instrument of pressure in the dispute of large business groups or independently engaged in a kind of “state racketeering” cases which in recent times often hear in the IT field.

Thus, the head of the Supervisory Board of the Ukrainian Association of venture capital and private equity UVCA Andrey Kolodyuk said about 50 cases of illegal searches in the IT companies over the last year.

Annual report of the Board of the business Ombudsman for the year 2016 indicates that the number of complaints to the SBU in comparison with the previous year nearly tripled from seven to 20 complaints.

This is the highest rate compared to all other state institutions. At the same time, the SBU became involved in series of high-profile journalistic investigations, which show their expensive houses and cars.

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Chairman of the Board of the Center of counteraction of corruption Vitaly Shabunin says – the standard of living of the steering part of the security does not meet the formal revenue. It requires the disclosure of still classified declarations of these officials.

Skipalsky calls the current state of SBU it as “running” from the point of view of morality.

The forgotten reform

Words Mingarelli is not the first reminder of the Western partners of Kiev about the need to accelerate the reform of the security Services. So, in February, the Director of the NATO liaison Office in Ukraine Alexander Vinnikov expressed expectations that Poroshenko will approve the concept of reforming the SBU, which was completed in July last year.

For its development in January of the same year was created the international Advisory group, which, according to information on the website of the security Service, representatives of the Consultative EU mission to reform the civilian security sector, foreign advisors to the NATO liaison Office in Ukraine, the staff of the center of information and documentation of NATO in Ukraine, other international organizations and leading foreign and domestic experts in this field. Among the main features of this concept, as expected, is the change of jurisdiction of some crimes that will go to the competence of the NEB, the RRT and the National police. Also focused on strengthening counter-intelligence activities and development of the network of agents and a mechanism of control over the security service from the public and Parliament.

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But, according to respondents DW experts, a key role will play just the first aspect.

“If you take security irrelevant functions, it will allow to concentrate efforts on the really important issues of counterintelligence and counter-terrorism activities, and also reduce the probability of using Ministry as an instrument of political pressure,” explains Semenov. And despite the fact that the document was created almost a year ago, he still is awaiting approval by the security Council and has not received the approval visa of the President.

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Skipalsky explains it by the desire charge of the reform of the persons to keep all processes under personal control. According to the expert, this “sin” as the head of the NSDC Oleksandr Turchynov and the President and his subordinates.

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However, Skipalsky is hoping that pressure from Western partners will help to move reform. “The awareness of the authorities of the fact that Ukraine may be accused of failure to honour obligations to the EU and other international structures – is a prerequisite for changes in SBU”, – he said.