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06KIEV1663, UKRAINE: BAPTISTS CAUGHT IN MIDDLE OF RADA

April 27, 2006

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06KIEV1663 2006-04-27 16:14 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv
VZCZCXRO6947
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHKV #1663/01 1171614
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 271614Z APR 06
FM AMEMBASSY KIEV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9055
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE

 

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KIEV 001663 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/27/2016 
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PINR SOCI SCUL UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: BAPTISTS CAUGHT IN MIDDLE OF RADA 
COALITION FORMATION STRUGGLE? 

REF: A. KIEV 1587 

     B. KIEV 1531 

Classified By: Ambassador for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 

Summary 
------- 

1. (C) In an April 27 meeting with Ambassador, the longtime 
head of the All-Ukraine Baptist Union, Gregoriy Komendant, 
asked for help in stopping the Prosecutor General's Office 
from seizing the Union's downtown Kiev headquarters building. 
 Beginning in November 2005, the PGO has accused the Union, 
and Komendant personally, of "wrongfully acquiring" the 
facility, which the Baptists have documents showing they 
legally own and have used since Soviet times.  Komendant 
characterized the PGO charges as "absurd."  Komendant said he 
could not rule out the possibility that the Union's 
difficulties were linked to Ukraine's contentious political 
infighting, including the ongoing post-election parliamentary 
majority coalition formation process.  He acknowledged that 
this move by Prosecutor General Medvedko (a crony of 
presidential Our Ukraine insider and Tymoshenko rival Petro 
Poroshenko) to seize the Union's headquarters was quite 
possibly an attempt to put pressure on Tymoshenko lieutenant 
Oleksandr Turchynov, a prominent Baptist minister and key 
player in the coalition talks.  End summary. 

Baptist Union Leader: Help! 
--------------------------- 

2. (SBU) The longtime President of the All-Ukraine Baptist 
Union, Gregoriy Komendant, called on Ambassador April 27 to 
ask for assistance in fending off a stepped-up effort by the 
Prosecutor General's Office (PGO) to seize the Union's 
downtown Kiev headquarters building.  Komendant related that 
the PGO had opened a criminal case against him for allegedly 
"wrongfully acquiring the headquarters building...by means of 
misusing an official position."  Komendant said the charge 
was absurd; the Union, the largest Baptist organization in 
Europe, had occupied its headquarters building since Soviet 
times and legally owned the property. 

Yushchenko Promises To Help, But No Sign That He Has 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 

3. (C) Komendant related that several weeks earlier he had 
spoken with President Yushchenko about what the PGO was doing 
and had given Yushchenko a packet of Union documents about 
the case.  Yushchenko had asked Komendant "for three of four 
days" to resolve the issue.  An exasperated Komendant, noting 
that it was now late April, averred that Yushchenko had "done 
nothing." 

Pressuring Turchynov 
-------------------- 

4. (C) In a letter that he gave Ambassador, Komendant wrote 
that "we do no know who ordered this attack...or whether it 
is due to religious prejudice, political motivation or a 
corrupt attempt to steal a tiny plot of land in central Kiev 
without offering to pay fair market or replacement value. 
Whatever the cause...it is a contemptible abuse of government 
power."  In response to a question from Ambassador, Komendant 
said he could not rule out the possibility that Prosecutor 
General Oleksandr Medvedko, a crony of Our Ukraine insider 
and Tymoshenko rival Petro Poroshenko, was attempting to 
seize the Union's headquarters to put pressure on Tymoshenko 
lieutenant Oleksandr Turchynov, a prominent Baptist minister 
and key player in the bruising coalition formation talks (ref 
A).  According to press reports, Turchynov remains 
hospitalized in Kiev with hepatitis. 

Comment: Collateral Damage 
-------------------------- 

5. (C) Like the PGO's arrest warrant for Turchynov (ref B), 
it is quite possible that Petro Poroshenko is behind the 
Baptist Union's current difficulties, which only began after 
the September 2005 Yushchenko-Tymoshenko split, in which 
Poroshenko and Turchynov were key players.  If so, this 
incident further highlights the lengths to which Poroshenko 
will go in his rivalry with Tymoshenko, who, along with 
Turchynov, publicly tarred him as corrupt during the 
September 2005 struggle that led to Tymoshenko's ouster as 
prime minister and Poroshenko's resignation as National 
Security and Defense Council Secretary. 

6. (SBU) Ambassador promised to raise this property dispute 
with the Prosecutor General. 

KIEV 00001663  002 OF 002 

7. (U) Visit Embassy Kiev's classified website at 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
Herbst

 

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