Push and hold

On Guard of National Security

Today we are beginning a series of publications about people of the unusual and hushed up profession – intelligence officers.

We seem to know about them from many books and films. In fact, literary and cinematic “Jameses Bonds” often significantly differ from the real people who quietly do the right thing for the state, collecting important intelligence.

The “Robotodavets” (“Employer”)’s editorial office asked the Advisor to the Chairman of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine Oleksandr Skrypnyk, journalist and writer, author of “Ukrainian Trace in the Intelligence Service”, “Intelligence Officers Born in Ukraine”, “The Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine: History and the Present” and others, to tell how one becomes an  intelligence officer, where intelligence-officers- to- be get their education, what features of character are necessary for this profession, how to go abroad to carry out intelligence work, who is currently working in the Foreign Intelligence Service and about whom of  former employees it is possible to tell  in detail.

In this issue we are publishing Oleksandr Skrypnyk’s answers to our questions, and in the issues that follow we will post his stories about intelligence officers whose names  are forever engraved  in museum exhibits of the Center of Professional and Patriotic Education of Staff of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine.


Skrypnyk Oleksandr Vasylyovych – journalist, writer, researcher of the history of the national Intelligence Service. Born in 1962 in Mykolaiv region. He graduated from the Faculty of Journalism of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv (1984) and the Faculty of Romano- Germanic Philology of Zaporizhyzhya National University (1994). He worked as the head of the Press Center of the Security Service of Ukraine (2000-2005) and of the Press Office of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine (2005-2014), now is an Advisor to the Chairman of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine. The author of fiction- documentary books “For Nestor Makhno’s Gold”, “Ukrainian Trace in the Intelligence Service”, “Heads of the Ukrainian Foreign Intelligence service” (co-author), “Intelligence Officers Born in Ukraine”, “The Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine: History and Nowadays”, adventure novel “Special Territory”. A Member of the National Union of Writers of Ukraine, Honored Journalist of Ukraine.

- Mr. Skrypnyk, given the fact that the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine is one of the most secret services and materials on its activities available to the public are rare, first of all I would like to ask you at least in general terms, to tell our readers what sort of  service it is, where it is situated and  what it does.

- Today, to many the name of this intelligence agency and acronym SZRU are already familiar and understandable. They are naturally associated with the independent state body that since its establishment in October 2004, has been carrying out its intelligence activities in political, economic, military-engineering, scientific- technological, information and ecological spheres. Its activities are aimed exclusively at countering external threats and challenges to national security.

According to the old international practice, the functional structure of the Intelligence Service covers processes of collecting intelligence through human and technical capacities, its analysis and preparation of analytical materials, forecasts and scenarios in the sphere of national and international security.

The Head Office of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine is situated in Nahirna Street in Kyiv. Some units are located in other parts of the capital and in different regions of Ukraine. The country seat of the SZRU is situated in the wooded area near Kyiv. Here has been created a multifunction infrastructure with administrative buildings, closed networks, security system, living facilities, sports complex, medical center and office housing.

- Who is working in the SZRU today?

- The Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine as a military unit includes military servicemen, officers and employees of the SZRU.

Taking into consideration the tasks set before the  SZRU, in intelligence units of human and  technical intelligence, combating international terrorism, information-analytical, legal, operational and technical,  support and other,  are working professionals in the spheres of international law and international relations, law, economics, political science, public administration, journalism, psychology, applied mathematics, cybernetics, computer technologies, system-oriented analysis, information security, etc., with the knowledge of one or more foreign languages.

Today we can see a steady trend towards the staff becoming younger. The vast majority of operational staff of the SZRU – are young people under 30 years of age with two degrees, including in international law and economics, many of them know two, some -three foreign languages. Without exception, they all get a special and language training. Several employees have degrees of Candidates and Doctors of Science, honorary degrees.

At the same time, not all employees of the SZRU are professional intelligence officers. There are many positions in the Service in which work people with higher, vocational or secondary education, who ensure the functioning of any department.

- What special features of character must one have to become an intelligence officer?

- During the professional selection, the focus is on finding patriotic citizens willing to decisively and aggressively defend the national interests of our country. Apart from this, also matter the level of intellectual development of the candidate, his/her psychological readiness to serve in the Intelligence Service, speed of thinking, communication skills, experience in working with people, readiness for self-improvement, for hard work, ability to take creative decisions in extreme conditions. It is important to be able to understand people, to find common ground with everyone, to clearly and understandably express one’s thoughts, to be inquisitive, to quickly sort out huge amounts of information and find the most important in it, to separate facts from speculations and much more. And, of course, the health and level of fitness will be taken into consideration too.

- How can one get to serve in the SZR of Ukraine?

- Taking into account the specifics of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine, finding and practical selection of candidates who could successfully perform tasks, is directly done by the Personnel Manager Office in cooperation with the Foreign Intelligence Service’s officers of departments concerned. In most cases, there is an individual staffing. The Service determines what experts are most needed at the moment: by education, knowledge of certain languages, experience in a certain sphere and so on.

Of course, we are addressed by the willing and initiative. If a person thinks that he/she meets the general requirements to the candidates, we recommend him/her to send his/her detailed resume (with contact phone numbers and addresses) to the website of the SZRU.   On the site one can learn the requirements to candidates, specifics of the procedure of entrance into the service and other issues. Representatives of the personnel staff carefully study all applications and if someone is up to the necessary criteria, they contact him for further study and entrance processing on a competitive basis.

- Does the SZRU have its own educational institutions and how can one enter them?

-The Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine has its own system of professional training of its staff. In particular, it has a staff higher educational institution – the Institute of the SZRU, under the public order performing training and retraining of the staff of the SZRU.

The main directions of educational activities of the Institute is training of  professionals of educational- qualification level of “Master” by specialties “Intelligence and Counterintelligence Activities” and “Technical Intelligence” as well as training, retraining  and upgrade training of  management, operational and operational-technical staff.

However, I want to emphasize that candidates for training can be only the staff who are in military service in the SZRU or under contracts concluded and employees of other government agencies of Ukraine. Entrance to the Master Studies Department is done on a competitive basis according to the results of entrance examinations.

- What positions in the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine are occupied by women? What education do women need to work in the SZRU?

- Today, women make up about 30 percent of the total staff of the SZRU. Most of them work in analytical, regime and documentary support, international cooperation Departments, the SZRU Institute, units of administrative and financial support. There are women in Human Intelligence and Special Technical Intelligence Departments, as well as abroad.

Most of women – employees of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine are professional linguists, psychologists, lawyers and economists. A number of positions occupied by women demand  fluency in foreign languages.

The SZRU has all conditions necessary for women to be able to demonstrate their abilities to the full, to achieve career success, to constantly self-improve. Every woman who comes to work in the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine, if she desires and makes appropriate efforts has the opportunity to realize her knowledge, skills, healthy ambitions and to become successful in many spheres.

- Mr. Skrypnyk, let me ask a somewhat specific question: is it true that all intelligence officers are checked on a lie detector?

- In short, I will answer your question as follows: the Service does use this method of verification, along with many others.

- As you know, the history of any intelligence service – is first of all the history of people who worked in it and by their invisible work were creating its image. About whom of Ukrainian intelligence officers could we tell on pages of our magazine?

- You know, this list is already so large that listing of names alone can take a lot of space. The history of the Ukrainian Intelligence Service is rather special, interesting and full of many events. Now we can confidently speak about its strong historical roots and ancestry, some extraordinary personalities, its own “handwriting”, after all, its national heroes of the “invisible front”.  There are so many talented, skillful, colorful, outstanding, dedicated individuals among them, that every country in the world would consider it an honor to have them in its history.  It is a pity that the names of many of them for a long time had not been associated with Ukraine.

Novels could be written and films could be shot about some of them. For example, let’s take Vasyl Vereshchak, who served at the court of the Polish King Yan Kazymyr, was promoted to Kamerger, had an access to information about secret meetings of the Seim and the Secret Royal Council, which through a network of messengers he had been passing to Bohdan Khmelnytsky. Or Yuriy Frants Kulczytskyi, who in 1683 saved the Habsburgs’ capital during its siege by the 200,000 Turkish army. The story of Coffee a la Vienne is also closely connected with his name.

Hryhoriy Orlyk can be called a peculiar Ukrainian Musketeer. By a twist of fate, he became a member of a Secret Cabinet of the French King Louis XV, was  repeatedly sent to a number of European countries with diplomatic and intelligence missions, got the title of a Count and the rank of Lieutenant-General of the French army.

The lives of representatives of intelligence structures of 1918 – 1921 are interesting and still to be studied. More recognizable are figures of intelligence officers from the times of the Second World War and the so-called Cold War, about whom more has been written lately.

Those brought up by the Ukrainian land during that period for intelligence tasks were planted  into the environment of the Bulgarian Tsar, Paraguayan dictator, leaders of some European and Asian countries, conducted responsible secret talks with Prime Ministers, rescued Krakiv from complete destruction by Hitler’s troops, were prototypes of heroes in the films “Sword and Shield”, “Salute, Maria!”, “Major Vykhor”(”Major Whirlwind”), “TASS Is Authorized to State”, and others, world-known artists, writers, scriptwriters, were residents of Intelligence Service in the USA,  England, France, Germany, Italy, Israel, India, Afghanistan, China and many other countries, collecting intelligence about the secrets of creation of the atomic bomb, the date of the Nazi Germany’s attack on the Soviet Union and many other important intelligence.

- So we expect stories about these intelligence officers in the next issues.


”Robotodavets” (”Employer”)

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