Push and hold

Russia and Its Satellites Are the Greatest Threat to the World Intelligence Community

Yehor Bozhok, (2017-2019) Chairman of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine

In the forest 10 kilometres from Kyiv on the Zhytomyr highway there is the suburban headquarters of the Foreign Intelligence Service. Among the tasks of the special service is collecting information abroad, its analytical processing and provision to the leadership of the state for the right decision-making. In September 2017, the career diplomat Yehor Bozhok became the Chairman of the FIS. Prior to this, for two years he had led the Mission of Ukraine to NATO in Brussels. In the conversation he does not hide: he has taken a course towards maximum integration with western special services, in order to counteract together a common threat – Russia. To this end, a new draft law “On Foreign Intelligence” has already been developed. In an interview with Ukrinform, Yehor Bozhok told about cooperation with MI6 and CIA, about Russia's plans to settle the “Ukrainian issue” and his predecessor, Hryhoriy Illyashov's role in the destroying of the special service.


- Yehor Valeriyovych, the presidential campaign has started in Ukraine. What should be expected from Russia, which in recent years interfered in the elections of at least five NATO member states?

- All Russian special services have a specific task “to close the Ukrainian issue” in 2019. “To close” means to return Ukraine to the orbit of influence of the Russian Federation. And to do this without fail, so that “no color revolutions” in Ukraine would happen again. To this end, the Kremlin has three scenarios for the development of events in Ukraine.

The first is a revenge of pro-Russian forces following the results of the presidential or parliamentary elections.

In case of the failure of pro-Russian or Russian-backed forces in the presidential election, a second scenario will be used, namely internal destabilization or so-called “controlled chaos”, to force Ukraine to accept the conditions put forward by the Kremlin.

The third scenario is a military operation. In case of impossibility of using the first two scenarios, the Kremlin does not rule out an open military aggression against Ukraine.

Probability of implementation of the 2nd or 3rd scenarios is very high. Putin's plans are known to nobody else, apart from Putin himself. The main task of the Foreign Intelligence Service this year is to prevent any interference of the Russian Federation with domestic political processes in Ukraine.

- What methods “will be used” in Ukraine?

- The whole toolkit of specific influence on the enemy, which is in the arsenal of special services: from cyber attacks to sabotage, bribes, provocations, influence on public opinion, misinformation, propaganda, the use of agents, the fifth column, “useful idiots”…

The special services of the Russian Federation have got colossal budgets, which are used to a large extent to conduct subversive operations in Ukraine. We have received information that the Kremlin has ordered to allocate this year additional 350 million US dollars to its special services for interference in the elections in Ukraine.

- According to your data, what will this money be used for?

- It will be spent on everything – fake news and bribes, organization of provocations, protests, internal political pressure on the leadership of the state, to prepare cyber attacks… The task of all the special services of the Russian Federation is “anyone, but not Poroshenko”. According to the Russian politicians, Poroshenko is the only person with whom it is impossible to achieve an agreement on returning Ukraine to the orbit of Russia's influence. He is really trying to bring Ukraine into the cohort of NATO and the EU and has the Kremlin's label “Russophob”. The progress achieved over the last 4 years is evident. This is recognized not only in Ukraine and in the West, but even in Russia.

And note that this has been done in a military confrontation with the Russian aggressor. Therefore, the Kremlin expects that any reset of power in Ukraine will entail some paralysis of the state mechanism until a new power vertical is built up. This pause will affect all spheres of life, including the military organization, which will give Russia a few months' window of opportunity to occupy Ukraine painlessly, in the way it tried to do it in 2014. To this end, nearly 50,000 Russian military are already near our borders with all their weapons and equipment. Their readiness varies from 24 to 72 hours.

- Why did the Russians decide to capture Ukrainian sailors in the Azov Sea?

- In the Kerch Strait, they were going to repeat the scenario of Georgia in 2008, when the Russian army forced the Georgian armed forces to use weapons for self-defense, and then used this as an excuse for the full-scale intervention on the country's territory. You remember what it cost Georgia and the international community not to let the Russian army enter Tbilisi.

One does not need to be a mega-spy or super-analyst to understand: the provocation in the Azov Sea was prepared. On the Internet there was the video filmed from a Russian ship, which was running foul of the Ukrainian boat. It had to document a defensive shot of the Ukrainian ship. It should have become legitimation: we shot, that is we attacked the Russian warship – and they have all the grounds for a full-fledged military response.

Our sailors acted steadfastly and did not let conduct a provocation against themselves which could have had serious consequences. Because of this, the President introduced martial law to prepare for a possible new round of the Russian Federation's aggression.

- At one time, at a high political level, there were calls for NATO to convoy Ukrainian warships' through the Kerch Strait. In your opinion, is NATO now ready for such a direct confrontation with Russia over the interests of Ukraine?

- The question is that NATO, Ukraine and the whole civilized world do not want to be subject to Russia's provocations, aimed at unleashing a war. Nobody is going to respond symmetrically. The main point is that the world community should know what's really going on.

All Russia's tactics are based on deception. If we ensure that the international community is properly aware of what is happening in the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov and in the Kerch Strait, this will be enough to contain aggression.

Russia counteracts, as best it can, the foreign forces' being located near the Crimea. Any warship can conduct intelligence. But apart from the ships, there is satellite intelligence, aviation, unmanned aerial vehicles, NATO is equipped with a Global Hawk reconnaissance aircraft, and there is intelligence services' interaction. This allows us and our NATO partners to conduct round-the-clock monitoring of all processes taking place in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

Currently, military operations abroad are the only way for the Russian authorities to maintain their credibility within the country. After the annexation of the Crimea, the Russian public experiences disillusionment. Ordinary citizens understand that the Crimea is an expensive pleasure previously supported by Ukrainian taxpayers. The Crimea is not profitable.

Also, over the past four years, international sanctions, which Putin calls “ridiculous”, have deprived the Russian budget of 173 billion US dollars. I do not know how much “ridiculous” this amount is for Putin, but I am convinced that for ordinary Russians, this is a huge money.

- Who has calculated this amount of losses?

- These are the Russian government's internal calculations as of the end of 2018, which they do not advertise.

- Prior to being appointed the Chairman of the FIS, for two years, you headed the Mission of Ukraine to NATO. At the Alliance's Warsaw Summit in 2016, Ukraine took on an obligation to reform the power structures. Does the FIS take steps in this direction?

- This is the task with which I have been appointed by the President here. For a year already I have been implementing the approved by Petro Oleksiyovych concept of reforming the Foreign Intelligence Service in accordance with NATO standards.

Reforms are needed to establish trust and proper interaction with the NATO intelligence community. Without integration into the NATO intelligence cohort, real integration of Ukraine into the Alliance is impossible.

- And what does the concept of reform mean?

- Final de-Sovietization or, if you wish, de-KGBzation of the Ukrainian intelligence. We must re-find our history, understand what it means to be the Ukrainian intelligence. During the Soviet period, Ukraine's foreign intelligence was an appendage of the foreign intelligence of the Russian Federation – the KGB of the USSR. We were not allowed to analyze, forecast, plan and make independent decisions. We had been collecting intelligence and passing it over to Moscow. Getting instructions from there, and so everything had been working for a long time.

To date, Ukraine's Foreign Intelligence has reversed. We have one great threat in the East – “Putin's Russia”, and this is a common threat to us and the whole civilized world. The President has set the task for us – to start thinking and give our by the law determined consumers – the President, the Government and the Parliament – not just information, but a quality analytics with forecasting and modeling – the things which until recently technically did not exist in the Ukrainian intelligence community.

On the President's instructions, together with our Western partners, we have prepared a new draft law “On the Foreign Intelligence of Ukraine”, which, in particular, is intended to prevent the use of the intelligence community of Ukraine – Border Guard Intelligence, Military Intelligence and Foreign Intelligence for non-democratic purposes.

- Russia allocates hundreds of millions of dollars to its special services. How well are our intelligence officers motivated to work?

- In the new draft law we are implementing the salary principle for intelligence officers, which is for NABU. A detective's salary is based on the minimum wage in the state, multiplied by a normatively fixed rate. If the Verkhovna Rada adopts this law, a junior intelligence officer will be paid about 30 thousand hryvnyas a month. This is in addition to medical care, housing, protection of him and his family.

I also want to emphasize that the intelligence community proposed to enshrine in the new law the opportunity to work in the intelligence for all – military, diplomats, prosecutors, civil servants. Personally I see the Foreign Intelligence as more civil. According to the classic Soviet concept an intelligence employee had to be an officer. A sort of Colonel Maksim Maksimovich Isaev. The antipode of the Soviet intelligence is CIA. They are all civilians there. In the British Mi6 – all are civilians, in Germany – civilians. I'm not saying that being in the uniform is bad, but we have to give people the opportunity to choose and this is provided for in the draft law. I still think we should stop being overly closed. And your current presence here shows that we are succeeding in this.

- Our special services are said to be beyond of proper control. What kind of control is provided for by the new draft law “On Foreign Intelligence”?

- The Ukrainian intelligence community advocates introduction in Ukraine of civil democratic control of the Intelligence's activity. The draft law states that such control is carried out by the profile committee of the Verkhovna Rada. And then the Parliament itself should determine which committee they will authorize to control the Intelligence.

- Right, there is such a proposal. The Parliament has registered draft law № 9462, which provides for the establishment of a parliamentary committee for the control of special services and law-enforcement agencies…

- If I am not mistaken, the initiator of this draft law is Mr. Levus. There are discussions among deputies about the form of control of the activity of the intelligence sector in Ukraine. We take part in them together with representatives of NATO, the United States, the Geneva Centre for Security Policy. We agree to any form of parliamentary control the Parliament chooses. The Ukrainian intelligence is interested in having a profile committee. When the Parliament understands what the Intelligence is doing, it will be much easier for them to adopt our budgets. To date, not all deputies understand why to spend money on the Intelligence.

- Is it known when the new draft law “On Foreign Intelligence” will be submitted to the Verkhovna Rada for consideration?

- We hope that the Ukrainian legislator will be able to adopt this Law in the current cadence of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. We have done our work and now we are waiting for further steps.


- Before the Revolution of Dignity, for almost four years, the FIS's Chairman was Hryhoriy Illyashov. He is known also as former Minister of Justice Olena Lukash's husband. While against the chiefs of the SBU and Ministry of Defense from the times of Yanukovych criminal cases have been opened, nothing of that kind is heard about Illyashov. How did his activity affect the Foreign Intelligence Service?

- In one of his recent interviews, Turchynov (Secretary of the NSDC – editor) said that when we faced the Russian Federation's direct armed aggression, we realized that all reforms in the Armed Forces and the Ministry of Defense, which had been conducted before, were aimed at the destruction of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. I can tell you that the FIS is not an exception.

- What did Illyashov do for the destruction of the Foreign Intelligence Service?

- To do nothing was enough. You see, every professional needs to feel he is needed. If you feel you have not been needed for 5 to 10 years, you lose faith in what you are doing. Demoralization. That was enough. The high turnover of staff, elegant destruction of all those structural elements that are needed for the body to work properly. The policy of erroneous goals, creation of a multitude of regulations, working groups, setting up endless tasks, performance of which, on the one hand, takes all the forces and time, and, on the other hand, they simply are not needed. This is a classic sabotage. If you want to destroy any institution, there is an absolutely clear set of rules. It can be found on the Internet. All those things had been 100 % done at the Foreign Intelligence Service.

I'll tell you more. Last year I canceled 1,531 unnecessary legal acts at the Foreign Intelligence Service.

- All of them had been created by Illiashov?

- Not by him alone, but those legal acts did exist. I canceled more than a dozen unnecessary duties and tasks which an intelligence officer had to carry out daily for unknown reason. I canceled many working groups, canceled a number of tasks, plans of measures which we continued to perform, but which in fact did not do good to the state. This is called a policy of false goals. That was the Intelligence we got. On the other hand, you ask why Illyashov is not accused of anything? But of what was he accused? He did not do anything illegal. This is the classical technology of any special service – to work so as not to be caught red-handed, but to fulfill the task. I am sure that Mr. Illyashov is a great professional, but not of the Ukrainian intelligence.

- That is, he served the Russian Federation?

- I will say nothing more. I cannot state this, because in order to state, I have to have proof, and I have only a feeling.

- As the Chairman of the Foreign Intelligence Service he did no good, did he?

- No, he did not. But it was done very elegantly, very professionally. And this is the answer to the question why Mr. Illyashov has not been brought to justice. We are a rule-of-law state. And we are not guided by estimates, feelings or assumptions. We are guided by facts. Therefore, I say that Mr. Illyashov is a great professional in his business, but, in my opinion, he is not a professional of the Ukrainian intelligence.

- Did I take it right that Ukrainian law-enforcement officers have no claims to Illyashov and he can visit Ukraine without problems?

- I'm not a law-enforcement agency. I have no time to be interested in the fate of Illyashov. For this purpose, there is the counterintelligence of the SBU, the police. I know what other previous chiefs of the FIS do. They have not lost contact with the Intelligence. They could be treated differently, but they do care about the FIS's fate. I communicate with all the previous chiefs, except Illyashov.

- The FIS has a department of internal security. Does it have any “catch”?

- The specifics of the work of the FIS's internal security unit is that the results of its work usually become known to the public from the department of counterintelligence of the Security Service. Two or three months ago, on the website of the Prosecutor General's Office, there was a message about bringing to the court an agent who was exposed in the FIS.

- For whom did he work?

- For Russia. The problem is that it is very difficult to detect a professional mole. And even more so is to bring him to justice in a rule-of-law state. Therefore, in the new draft law “On the Foreign Intelligence of Ukraine” we applied the legal basis for dismissal from the service, which was borrowed from the CIA. It is the loss of trust and confidence. To date, even if I suspect a SZR employee that he works not for Ukraine, I cannot dismiss him.

- But the loss of trust and confidence is a rather subjective reason for dismissal…

- Subjective. But there is a fuse for this. The decision on the loss of trust and confidence will be taken collectively. This will allow cleansing without the need for a clear evidence base. It is very difficult to bring a true intelligence agent to court. People are specially trained for this. This is a classic of the genre.

- Let's talk about your First Deputy Chairman Serhiy Semochko. In the autumn of last year, a scandal arose after the publication of a journalistic investigation stating that Semochko's family owns valuable real estate, and his civil wife and daughter have Russian passports. As you know, the SBU should check candidates before the appointment to such positions. Did such checking take place and what were its results?

- You are talking about a procedure that applies to people who begin to work at a special service for the first time. Serhiy Oleksiyovych is not a beginner in the system of special services of Ukraine. This was not the first appointment, but the transfer from one position at a special service to another position in a special service. To people – officers of special services, different principles are applied. They are checked all the time.

- At the Verkhovna Rada Committee, you said that the FIS conducts an internal investigation about Semochko. Are there results already?

- The situation is as follows. Two criminal proceedings have been opened. One – by the counterintelligence of the Security Service over the information in media about Serhiy Oleksiyovych's relatives' having Russian citizenship. The second criminal proceeding was opened by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine due to the information about illegal enrichment. Proceedings are taking place at the moment, so my role and the role of the internal security of the FIS in this case are quite limited. The investigation is conducted by two structures. I can only send them some information. This is done to prevent conflicts of interest. I do not even know at which stage one or another investigation is. I only know that active legal proceedings are being taken – seizure of documents,the court approval for access to mobile phones has been received…

- This decision of the court mentioned that the employees of the SBU's counterintelligence confirmed the Russian citizenship of Semochko's wife and daughter…

- I cannot comment on this, to exclude even the possibility of being suspected in trying to influence something. I am waiting for the decision of the competent law-enforcement agencies. I want to emphasize that we have a presumption of innocence in our country, so to deprive someone of something or to dismiss someone I can only under the Disciplinary Charter of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. This Charter states that I can dismiss my employee in two cases: if he has been served with charge papers or if a report has been completed against him over his violation of anti-corruption legislation. In other cases, the legislator has limited me in rights as much as possible. That is why into the new draft law “On Foreign Intelligence” we included a clause on the loss of trust and confidence, based on which one can be dismissed.


- The FIS website says that you are cooperating with foreign intelligence agencies. What kind of cooperation is meant? Does the FIS perform foreign intelligences' tasks?

- We are establishing cooperation with intelligence agencies of NATO member countries. Over the past year, the Foreign Intelligence Service has developed a partnership with the CIA of the United States, the MI6 of Great Britain, the BND of Germany, as well as with the French intelligence.

- Until 2014 there had not been such cooperation?

- According to the law, in order to coordinate interaction with any foreign intelligence, we must obtain the President's permission. Today I have the permission for in-depth interaction with the CIA, MI6, the NATO Intelligence Committee, and I can boast of the results. Now you draw conclusions.

- NATO recently has conducted the intelligence reform and as a result, created a new unit called “Joint Intelligence and Security Division”. Does the FIS cooperate with this unit?

- The Chief of this Division is Arndt von Loringhoven, a great friend of mine. By the way, he will soon visit us for a second time. We do cooperate. I want to say that not only the FIS, but our sister service – GUR of the Ministry of Defense also actively cooperates with this Division. Of course, we have a much greater potential for interaction than the level at which we are now. But first we have to gain trust. Over the past year, we have advanced significantly in this direction. When we have full cooperation with this Division and when we have access to internal networks of NATO intelligence sharing systems, this will mean that the trust of the Alliance's intelligence community to the Ukrainian intelligence community is at the level that we can take a new step in integrating into NATO – getting the Membership Action Plan (MAP).

- What threats is the world intelligence community facing?

- Russia and its satellites. Those who depend or are entirely under the Russian Federation's influence. All the Western partners with whom I communicate today, unanimously state that Russia is the main threat to security. I do not say that this is the only threat, but it is the main one.

- At the end of last year, the FIS started the procedure for the withdrawal from the Agreement on cooperation of security services and intelligence agencies of the CIS member states. Why only now, in the fourth year of the war with Russia?

- I find it difficult to answer this question. I can only speak for myself. I consider it unacceptable to have an agreement on cooperation with the country that has been waging war against us and has allegedly violated this agreement for several million times. Therefore, I initiated this issue; the President supported me, and I know that the government has already supported this. That is, there is the government's decision that we are withdrawing from this agreement. Next is the diplomatic procedure, there will still be some process, but I already have all the legal grounds for saying that this deal is not valid for us.

- Has the FIS been exchanging operational and intelligence information with the intelligence services of the CIS member states after 2014?

- With some CIS member states it has. With Russia – it has not. Instead, I can tell you that for today in Ukraine almost 100 % of information exchange takes place with special services of NATO member states. This means that gradually, NATO member countries build trust in us, because sharing knowledge obtained through specific methods is risky. And not everybody is willing to do this because, having received the information, one can understand where you got it, and this can endanger the forces and resources which intelligence agencies have abroad.

The key theme of the information exchange between us and our NATO partners is Russia. They give us information and we give information to them.

- In autumn, together with the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, Turchynov you laid the capsule into the foundation of the new headquarters building of the Ukrainian Foreign Intelligence. Apart from the Space Intelligence, with what other modern innovations will the new headquarters be equipped? Turchynov said that “serious steps have been taken in the cybernetic and other components of the intelligence”. Reveal some details. What did he mean?

- I will explain to you the logic of this process. What for do we need headquarters? It is needed, first of all, in order to optimize the money of taxpayers and not to spend it on not needed objects. It will also enhance the security of our structure. All leading intelligence agencies in the world, have the main infrastructure located in a suburban headquarters, with secure communication channels. And when, as now, the Foreign Intelligence Service has been scattered all over Kyiv, this is another element of the sabotage of the Service's activity. I expect that all the Foreign Intelligence Service's objects will be located in one place, but this process will take longer than a day. The construction of a new infrastructure for the Ukrainian intelligence is being done not only with the help of the Ukrainian taxpayer. We also get help from partners. Leading NATO member states finance the development of the Ukrainian intelligence. To me, this is more than a clear signal that they have confidence in the current political leadership of the state and trust today's Foreign Intelligence Service. Otherwise, any person, sound in mind, would not finance such things. This is an indicator to me.


- Recently your First Deputy Andriy Alieksieienko was meeting at the airport “Boryspil” the released Ukrainian sailor Andriy Novichkov, who was facing the death penalty in Iran. Eventually he was successfully exchanged for an Iranian spy, pardoned by the President prior to this. Unveil details: who this Iranian spy was and under what circumstances he was  detained in Ukraine.

- The detention of this Iranian spy is the result of a brilliant operation of the counterintelligence of the Security Service. The Foreign Intelligence Service negotiated his release with the Foreign Intelligence Service of Iran, so that they, let's say, influence their law-enforcement agencies, because Andriy's imprisonment was absolutely groundless. And now there are comments on the Internet that Andriy was imprisoned on purpose, in order to exchange him for Ali Jaduel. No. Andriy was jailed because, according to the Sharia law, if you are just standing next to the place where a Muslim was killed and you are not a Muslim, you are guilty by default. This is a completely different philosophy.

- I got the impression that Andriy Novichkov is your employee…

- I would like to have such an employee. He is really an iron man, an interesting personality, but unfortunately, not our employee. But we will give this a thought (laughs – editor)…

- The Service has its own educational institution to train employees. It is the Institute of the Foreign Intelligence Service, which trains specialists in the fields of “human intelligence” and “technical intelligence”. Can the Institute be entered by anybody who wishes to do so or are recommendations needed?

- Recommendations are needed.

- Are people selected and offered training there?

- They are.

- Do they often agree?

- It depends. There is a whole algorithm for selecting potential candidates for intelligence work. Psychologists are screening people. First of all, there must be psychological stability. Secondly, they assess the person's capability of establishing trusting relationships, which is very important. The gift for languages is then tested. This test is hidden. The person does not know that he/she is being tested. An operative psychologist, watching the behavior of the person, can understand the features of character. And after the person has passed this preliminary assessment, we run a test for psychological endurance.

- What is the typical profile of a candidate?

- You can organize everything in different ways. I want to tell you that, according to my assessments, women and young ladies are much more effective in the intelligence than men.

- And how do you explain it?

- I'm not ready to tell yet. I'm just learning. But I state the fact. Our young ladies are more successful than young men. I'm serious about this.

- What is the ratio between young ladies and young men in the Service? Perhaps the Intelligence needs to take more young ladies?

- I will not tell you the ratio. But we have a patriarchate since the Soviet era. And people come to work in the intelligence having agreed to a certain offer. This is a classic Soviet system. We are now trying to introduce the Western approach to this as well. In the near future, an approach will be used when it will be possible to offer one's candidacy by filling out a special form on the website.

- And if this form is seen by “rats”?

- There is cyber security for this purpose. If “rats” see this, then they will see everything else. I visited MI6 to see how it works. There you can fill out a questionnaire on the website and offer your candidacy. But you do not know, whether your application has been read or not. After a while, after a preliminary check, you may be approached and offered to work for the intelligence. In the Soviet system there was a preliminary screening, when people walked and watched.

In the Western system, this is also done, plus there is an opportunity to fill out a questionnaire.

- Are there dynasties in the Ukrainian intelligence?

- There are dynasties. But I'll tell you that it does not work in the intelligence. If your father or mother is an intelligence officer, this is not a guarantee that you too are capable of being one. Everything is absolutely individual. And vice versa: a child of the people who, in general, have never been associated with this in any way in their lives, can be an intelligence genius. It's all about natural gifts.

- Do representatives of the Ukrainian diaspora abroad volunteer to work for the Ukrainian intelligence?

- Any diaspora is a klondike for the intelligence. Israeli intelligence services are most actively using this technology. With our colleagues from the Mossad (with whom, by the way, we also interact) it is very easy to work.

Therefore, diaspora is one of the classic tools of intelligence work.

- The British MI6, the American CIA, the Israeli Mossad and the FSB of Russia are considered the strongest intelligence agencies in the world. Which of the world intelligence agencies, in your opinion, should be a model for the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine?

- I do not want to completely copy any model, because the intelligence is something intimate. When you copy the model, you immediately become vulnerable to those from whom you copied it. That is why we have to take the best. The British are very good at human intelligence, Americans are excellent analysts.

- And Russians?

- They should not be underestimated, they are really strong. This is the Soviet school. Their weakness is that they are Soviet, their strength is that they are true professionals. Special services of the Russian Federation are like the Ukrainian “Mriya” aircraft, which was made at 29 factories all over the Soviet Union. Similarly, the special services – the KGB of the USSR – did not spare money, they are strong in everything – in technical intelligence, human intelligence, languages, psychology, and analysis. Their problem is that they stopped there, they do not go forward and they are very arrogant. This is their problem and this is their weakness. And yes, Naryshkin and his team are very strong guys. Although they are my enemies, I have to admit this.

- Historically, the Ukrainian intelligence borrowed a lot of methods of work from the Soviet KGB, since the people from that particular structure were building our special services after Ukraine gained independence. Now, in the context of the war with Russia, does this somehow help in the work of the Foreign Intelligence Service?

- This is our treasure. This not only helps in the work, it is our key to Euro-Atlantic integration. This is why NATO needs us. Nobody else knows “Russians” better than we do.

- It is known that in the RF, the FSB and GRU compete with each other and it is believed that this increases the efficiency of their work. In Ukraine, intelligence work is also done by the Foreign Intelligence Service and the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense. Do you cooperate or compete?

- For a long time, there really was a serious competition between the Foreign Intelligence Service, Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense, Security Service of Ukraine. This technology – divide and rule – was actively used in the Soviet Union. Why was it done? They were always afraid of each other and knew that all eggs should not be put in one basket.

We have divided the tasks. The Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense – is fighting and coordinating the military sphere; I am aimed at “distant fishing”, as the fishermen say, and the Security Service of Ukraine – works here. And when I get something about the war with Russia, I do not run to report, but I give it to the GUR because they have the potential and they can assess and add specific intelligence data to the general military picture. If the GUR “catches” something related to politics, economy, then they pass it over to me. If I get information about what is planned in Ukraine, then I immediately give it to Vasyl Serhiyovych Hrytsak.

- One of the tasks of the Foreign Intelligence is to assist in the conclusion of economic contracts. Are there any successes?

- Economic intelligence is one of the priority tasks of any foreign intelligence. The FIS is no exception. We work in this sphere and have a certain result. Our work last year allowed to conclude a series of contracts, worth several hundred million dollars.

- The tasks of the Foreign Intelligence Service include collecting, analytical processing and providing intelligence information to the President, Speaker and Prime Minister. Do senior officials always make adequate and correct decisions based on the intelligence data?

- I can say that the President not only takes intelligence information into consideration, but we are interacting with him daily. The President participates in the analysis of information. We may believe that we know 100 % about something and pass it to the President, but he calls and says: “Disinformation”. And then it turns out that he is right.

- Does he conduct analysis?

- You see, our President is an achiever. He himself works actively abroad. He directly communicates with a large majority of world leaders, therefore, of course, he knows more delicate things at the highest level. And what seems 100 % to us, he, having heard personally different information from his colleague – the leader of another state, for example, can say “no”.

That is, at present, not only the Intelligence helps President Poroshenko, but President Poroshenko helps the Intelligence, because he himself analyzes information and sometimes gives valuable advice to Ukrainian intelligence officers about what “sources” they use (laughs – editor).

- Did the officers of the Foreign Intelligence Service leave the Peninsula or did they side with Russia after the annexation of the Crimea? What is the percentage of those who returned and those who stayed there?

- Roughly 50 to50.

- The Foreign Intelligence Service has powerful means for reading and interception of information, radio intelligence and phone-tapping. Do you get proposals to use this potential in favour of some politicians against others inside the country?

- The President, clearly forbade me to join politics in any way. My main task in the context of this year's elections is to struggle against the interference of the Russian Federation in Ukraine's domestic political processes. And I do this. The FIS's technical means do not work in the territory of Ukraine, this is prohibited by the law. And I can tell you absolutely honestly, we have not even been approached with such proposals.

- What is your attitude to the fact that former siloviki Valentyn Nalyvaychenko, Ihor Smeshko and Anatoliy Hrytsenko are running for the presidency?

- What is wrong with it? Siloviki are also people. Why not try? If Ihor Petrovych has a financial resource and fervor… Or Valentyn Oleksandrovych. We had worked together at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I was a young diplomat, he was a Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

- Do you have any plans to become a politician in the future?

- A politician? Never! I was never meant for this. In order to go into politics, one must love it, and I do not really love politics, seriously. As the saying goes, never say never, but I was never meant for this.

- The website of the Foreign Intelligence states that after the war with Russia, the Service's activity is aimed at countering the spread of separatist tendencies in some regions of Ukraine. In the light of recent events, according to the Intelligence, is there a threat of losing part of our territories in the West of the country?

- There is no threat, but Hungarian irredentism is a real problem, and not only for Ukraine, but also for a number of the EU member states. We have a lot of ethnic Romanians, Bulgarians, Greeks, but you can negotiate with them all, while Hungarian irredentism is a problem. Hungarians do not stop at anything and try to completely control ethnic Hungarians around the world. Hungarians want to have a Hungarian enclave in the territory of Ukraine, in Romania – everywhere. Of course, we will never go to that.

The problem with Hungarians is serious, but there is no threat of a loss of our territory.

- What do you consider the main reason for the rise of right radical moods in Europe?

- I am sure that this is the result of the deliberate work of the Russian Federation's special services. Right radicals are the Russian special services' instrument for stimulating centrifugal processes in the EU and destroying the EU as such. Marie Le Pen… They do not even deny it. How did they buy right radicals? With the money, which the Kremlin does not spare. By the way, we also have a problem with this.

- You mean our right radicals could be funded by Russia?

- We are trying to prevent this, but they are very vulnerable. Detection of agents of influence of the Kremlin falls within the competence of the SBU's counterintelligence.

- MP Shufrych is said to be somehow connected with Hungary…

- We all know this, but, unlike Putin, we cannot put a person behind bars just because we think that he is bad or not pro-Ukrainian. The strength of the democratic community is in it's always being governed by law and rules. But this is simultaneously a weakness, from the point of view of Russia, which does not adhere to rules.

- Due to stepped-up cases of special services' using chemical weapons, are Ukrainian intelligence officers engaged in the search for places where they are being manufactured?

- That's a good question. We provide maximum support to our partners from MI6, the CIA and other intelligence services of Western countries in order to help identify and neutralize such things around the world.

I will tell you this: the detection and neutralization of the agents of Russian special services in Ukraine and in the territory of NATO are my priorities, and I work on them every day, helping my partners understand what Russia is doing in their territory.

- Does the Foreign Intelligence Service have information on chemical or nuclear weapons being brought to the Crimea?

- Comprehensive information on this subject is at the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense. This is their competence.

- Okay. Then, are our intelligence officers spy upon our former officials who ran away after the Revolution of Dignity?

- Why spy upon them? Everyone knows where they live. Everyone understands that Yanukovych is a traitor. Our spying upon them will change nothing.

- How much do Russian special services influence the Russian Orthodox Church?

- Do you remember Solovyov? “Holy Father, can I address you this way?” “Sir, yes, Sir!”. That's it. By 99 %, the Russian Orthodox Church is controlled by special services of the Russian Federation. Those working in Russia are the FSB, those who work at missions of the Russian Orthodox Church abroad, as well as in the “Russian Orthodox Palestine Society” are the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation. This is called “Captain Obvious”. The only problem is that our Western partners cannot believe it. They believe it is against the rules.

- January 24, the Foreign Intelligence of Ukraine will celebrate its 100th anniversary, since the first intelligence unit was created in the Ukrainian People's Republic. So who actually found this date and why did you decide to celebrate exactly on this day?

- The date was found by the author of the book “100 Years of Struggle, Confrontations and Achievements” Oleksandr Skrypnyk. He found it in our archives, which I gradually open. Having found this date, we realized that in 2014, Putin did not come up with anything new, he used all that the Bolsheviks did in the 17–19 years of the last century. Absolutely the same.

When their attempt to bring the vast majority of Bolsheviks into the Ukrainian People's Assembly failed, at the end of 1918 in Kharkiv, as you remember, was proclaimed the Soviet republic. And then the Red Army came “to help”. In 2014, it was all the same – the DPR and LPR in the East of the country. Conducting this research, I became convinced that those who do not remember their past have no future. Had we known in 2013 what the Bolshevik special services were doing against us in 1917, we would have been better prepared for all the scenarios that developed in 2014 in Kharkiv, Dnipro, Luhansk and Donetsk. One hundred years ago, they even tried to capture the same cities – Yuzivka, Kharkiv, Yekaterynoslav, Odesa, Kerch, Sevastopol… Mr. Skrypnyk described all this very well. I was shocked when I was reading. When you draw parallels, everything is the same. Then, a hundred years ago, the Foreign Intelligence of Ukraine was created, today it is reborn, but the circumstances are absolutely identical. At that time the UPR fell, but I assure you that this time the Ukrainian state will stand.


Alla Shershen. Kyiv

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