Monday, January 17, 2005

Ukraine - "We had generals on the side of the people."

In this astonishing story in The NY Times, How Top Spies in Ukraine Changed the Nation's Path times reporter C. J. Chivers relates how the Ukranian secret police (S.B.U.), whose top commander, Col. Gen. Ihor P. Smeshko had decided that bloodshed was to be avoided at any cost, was instrumental in derailing the forced putdown of the peaceful insurrection by Ukrainian protesters. Outstanding! Gen. Smeshko had hundreds of intelligence officers moving throughout the demonstrators (to advise them and try to protect them), video equipment on rooftops to record any events which could later "be used as evidence" as he pointedly warned Gen. Popkov, commander of the troops advanving on the Kiev demonstrators, snipers on rooftops to shoot the advancing troops in an effort to protect the demonstrators and intelligence officers in cars and trucks scouring the countryside outside Kiev to try to determine the route being used by the advancing troops.

Gen. Smeshko went so far as to have a face-to-face confrontation with Kuchma and Yanukovich, forcing Kuchma to turn on Yanukovich and the latter to stalk out of the meeting in a rage. "Viktor Feyodovich, if you are ready for a state of emergency, you can give this order," he said. "Here is Bilokon," he continued. "The head of the M.V.D. You will be giving him, as chairman of the government, a written order to unblock the buildings? You will do this?"

Mr. Yanukovich was silent. General Smeshko waited. "You have answered," he continued, according to people in the meeting. "You will not do it. Let us not speak nonsense. There is no sense in using force."

Read the whole thing. It's better than anything Le Carre ever fictionalized.

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