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07KYIV666, UKRAINE: RAIDS AIMED AT LUTSENKO WIDEN TO

March 22, 2007

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07KYIV666 2007-03-22 15:46 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXRO2782
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHKV #0666/01 0811546
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 221546Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1647
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KYIV 000666 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/22/2016 
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PINR UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: RAIDS AIMED AT LUTSENKO WIDEN TO 
SUPPORTERS, COURT SUSPENDS CRIMINAL CASE 
 
REF: A. KYIV 642 
     B. KYIV 283 
     C. 04 KIEV 4235 
 
Classified By: Ambassador for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (SBU)  Summary:  Following the March 20 Prosecutor General 
Office (PGO) early morning raid on former Interior Minister 
Yuriy Lutsenko's apartment (ref A), on March 21, police 
allegedly broke into the Kyiv office of the Anti-Criminal 
Choice NGO (without a warrant) headed by Lutsenko's brother 
Serhiy, attempted to raid the apartment of the NGO's Kyiv 
coordinator Yaroslav Hodunok, summoned Hodunok and Lutsenko 
ally Taras Stetskiv separately for questioning, and may be 
initiating actions against the NGO's provincial offices. 
Lutsenko himself spent four hours answering questions at the 
PGO March 21 but did not return for an afternoon 
interrogation after a court suspended the criminal case and 
the pre-trial investigation, pending a review of Lutsenko's 
appeal.  President Yushchenko, commenting publicly on the 
pressure against Lutsenko and his team for the first time, 
called the criminal case a "political order" designed to 
prevent Lutsenko from traveling around the country. 
 
2. (SBU)  Summary, cont: Ambassador raised our concerns March 
21 with PM adviser Gryshchenko, who acknowledged that this 
situation looked bad for the Government, but stressed that 
the PG was appointed by the President under the previous 
constitution.  Lutsenko, who plans to resume his provincial 
rallies in Zhytomyr March 23 and Chernihiv March 24, told 
Ambassador March 22 that "old leaders," both orange and blue, 
were coming back into power and falling back into old habits. 
 They were scarred by the Orange Revolution and their 
perception that Kuchma had simply failed to use the 
government apparatus correctly to hold onto power.  They 
could not understand that Lutsenko's movement was not aimed 
at removing them from office, but rather at empowering people 
to demand changes from their elected officials. 
 
3. (C) Comment.  Yushchenko's appeal to the GPO not to repeat 
the mistakes of 2004, when similar pressure was used against 
civic action groups and activists, including Hodunok, and to 
remember its role as a protector of human rights, is being 
read here as a warning to the PM and the Government, who are 
seen here by some as working behind the scenes with the 
Prosecutor's Office to get Lutsenko.  Lutsenko seems willing 
to take the high road and wait this out, but he does believe 
that international opinion should make clear that these 
events are not democratic or appropriate in a country that 
says it wants to be part of Europe.  Interestingly enough, 
Yuliya Tymoshenko and her team have remained silent about 
Lutsenko's predicament, underscoring the fact that her 
concern about Lutsenko as a competitor may outweigh any 
impulse to publicly defend democratic principles.  We will 
stay in close contact with Lutsenko and his allies and 
continue to raise our concerns with government officials 
about the apparent politically-motivated use of law 
enforcement organs against political opponents.  End Summary 
and Comment. 
 
Police expand the target list to brother and allies 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
4.  (SBU)  After PGO investigators spent March 20 raiding and 
interrogating civic activist Yuriy Lutsenko, the police 
expanded the effort March 21, targeting Lutsenko's brother 
Serhiy, who heads the "Anti-Criminal Choice" NGO, part of the 
People's Self-Defense movement, the NGO's Kyiv Coordinator 
Hodunok, and Lutsenko ally (and Presidential adviser) Taras 
Stetskiv.  The NGO's Kyiv coordinator Hodunok, also a local 
municipal council member, told the press that, repeating the 
March 20 pattern, police arrived March 21 for an early 
morning search of the NGO's office without a court-issued 
warrant (which arrived later).  The stated purpose was to 
search for explosives, arms, and contraband in a follow-up to 
a cache of weapons discovered in the basement of the same 
building earlier in this week. 
 
5. (SBU) Hodunok told reporters that, despite lacking a 
warrant, police broke down a door of the NGO's Kyiv office 
before he arrived, demanded to bring him in for questioning, 
but then negotiated terms of his appearance since he had the 
status of a local council member (note: Hodunok was also 
targeted in a well known wave of raids on NGOs and civic 
activists October 22, 2004, on the eve of the first round of 
the Presidential elections - see ref C).  According to Serhiy 
Lutsenko, lawyers for the NGO and a local TV station were 
allowed to enter the office several hours after the raid 
began but their access to the office was limited.  Serhiy 
Lutsenko claimed to us that the questioning was intended to 
prevent Hodunok from leading a planned protest at the PGO 
 
KYIV 00000666  002 OF 003 
 
 
where Yuriy Lutsenko was being questioned. 
 
6. (SBU)  Hodunok told the press the police only found eggs 
and pretzels at the NGO office, and that the arms cache in 
the buildi
ng's basement appeared to hold old weapons in 
well-maintained condition, much like what one would find in a 
police armory.  The weapons cache was also located under the 
Pechersk police directorate chief's apartment, not the NGO's 
office.  In a separate statement, deputy SBU Chief Hennadiy 
Moskal said that had no information on any groups associated 
with Yuriy Lutsenko's People's Self Defense organization 
having weapons, adding that the cache's location seemed 
unconnected. 
 
7.  (SBU) In a separate incident, the PGO summoned Lutsenko 
ally Stetskiv for questioning.  Stetskiv told a press 
conference later that the PGO had revived an investigation 
into his activities in 2005 as head of the state television 
station UT-1, specifically expenditures on the May 2005 
Eurovision broadcast.  Previous audits had uncovered no 
discrepancies, he stated.  Separately, Pavlo Sevostyanov, 
former OSCE regional coordinator for Crimea, called us late 
March 21 to report that People's Self-Defense activist and 
former Shchelkino Territorial Election Committee Chair Mykola 
Harmash, was illegally detained; Harmash remained in 
detention March 22.  Serhiy Lutsenko also told us that an 
Anti-Criminal Choice office in the city Kharkiv had been 
broken into on March 20 and that police in Vinnytsya Oblast 
were planning a search of the NGO's offices there. 
 
Criminal investigation suspended - Lutsenko on the move? 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
8. (SBU) Mid-day March 21, the Podil District Court suspended 
the criminal case and the pre-trial investigation against 
Lutsenko, pending a review of the case's legal merits and his 
appeal that procedural violations had occurred.  Lutsenko 
chose not to return to the PGO for afternoon questioning 
after the ruling, and Lutsenko's lawyer stated that the 
suspension allowed Lutsenko to resume his weekend provincial 
rallies, planned for Zhytomyr on March 23 and Chernihiv March 
24.  During an evening interview on TV channel 1 1, Lutsenko 
claimed that he had two days' notice of the March 20 raid, 
which unsuccessfully sought to find alleged office furniture 
from the Ministry of Interior and a supposed Israeli 
passport.  According to Lutsenko, he removed nothing from his 
apartment prior to the search. 
 
Ambassador raises concern with PM adviser... 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
9. (C) Ambassador raised our concerns about the appearance of 
the use of law enforcement agencies to pressure political 
opponents with PM adviser Konstantin Gryshchenko late March 
21.  Gryshchenko began by noting that the Prosecutor General 
was a presidential appointee and therefore, only Yushchenko 
has the power to stop this investigation.  (Embassy note: 
Under the new constitution, the President does have the right 
to dismiss the Prosecutor General, but only with Rada 
approval, under certain circumstances included in a law on 
the Prosecutor General, that predates the 2004 constitutional 
amendments.  However, the constitution also allows for the 
Rada to dismiss the Prosecutor General through a vote of no 
confidence.  End Note.)  Gryshchenko went on to argue that 
the case was actually unfairly damaging the PM's reputation. 
The case was not within the PM's control, yet he looked bad 
and Lutsenko was benefiting from the publicity.  In his view, 
Lutsenko had not experienced real discomfort that would 
accompany a stay in a Ukrainian jail. 
 
10.  (C)  At the end of the conversation, Gryshchenko 
grudgingly agreed that he understood our concerns and 
accepted that the case looked bad for Ukraine, regardless of 
who was at fault.  He said that he would ensure that the 
Prime Minister knew of Washington's concern about the case. 
Interestingly enough, opposition leader Yuliya Tymoshenko has 
yet to make any public comments about Lutsenko's case. 
Tymoshenko confidante and BYuT Rada deputy Hrihoriy Nemiriya 
acknowledged to the Ambassador that BYuT had not commented on 
Lutsenko's case, but noted that the investigation and the 
ongoing controversy over the cancellation of a political talk 
show on UT-1 (septel) had increased concern in the opposition 
camp about the Government's latest actions. 
 
...and meets Lutsenko 
--------------------- 
 
11. (C) Ambassador met Yuriy Lutsenko at the Embassy late 
March 22.  Lutsenko said that the attacks on him and his 
allies were a sign of "old people from the old system" coming 
back into power.  (He said that Yanukovych, Yushchenko, 
 
KYIV 00000666  003 OF 003 
 
 
Tymoshenko, and even, he, Lutsenko, were still post-Soviet.) 
These people were still "psychologically traumatized" by the 
Orange Revolution and could not accept that protests could 
have any goal other than the overthrow of the government. 
Lutsenko said that he had tried to explain to DPM Kluyev, a 
friend of his, that his movement was meant to spur the 
current government to fulfill the promises it made to the 
people and was not another Maidan, but Kluyev just could not 
believe it. 
 
12. (C) Lutsenko proposed a theory for why the PGO had become 
so deeply involved in action against him.  Deputy PG Rinat 
Kuzmin, widely regarded as the Donetsk clan's primary man in 
the PGO, bore a personal grudge against him, because Lutsenko 
had been considering helping the Klitchko and Tymoshenko 
forces in Kyiv to push for a recall of current mayor 
Chernovetskiy.  In such a scenario, Lutsenko would then run 
for mayor to secure a platform from which to demonstrate that 
some politicians actually work for the good of the people. 
However, Kuzmin is a longtime business partner of 
Chernovetskiy's, according to Lutsenko, and consequently 
sought to harass Lutsenko and his allies.  Finally, Lutsenko 
suggested that "external forces" (the normal reference to 
Russia) were playing a key role in the anti-Lutsenko PR. 
 
13. (C) Looking into the future, Lutsenko said he still 
believed his movement was a several year project; his aim was 
to politically mobilize the youth and the middle class, to 
make them aware that they could change their own future.  He 
would, in fact, like to be mayor of Kyiv.  He claimed 15-20 
Rada MPs wished to join his People's Self-Defense movement. 
President Yushchenko continued to pressure Lutsenko to head 
the People's Union Our Ukraine (PUOU) party, but Lutsenko 
believed PUOU was a dying organization--he could envision 
cooperating with them, but never joining them.  Laughingly 
referring to an upcoming meeting with Yushchenko, he quipped: 
"I'd rather be in the prosecutor's office again, than with 
the President right now," because it was so hard for Lutsenko 
to keep saying no to a man he respected so much. 
 
14. (C) Lutsenko noted that he had sat down with Tymoshenko 
recently and suggested that they cooperate, but she had 
refused to listen to him.  According to Lu
tsenko, she wanted 
a two-party system in which she controlled 50 percent of 
Ukraine (with Regions controlling the other half).  Lutsenko 
believed such a model would leave the country with a 
winner-take-all government that would never move in the right 
direction. 
 
15. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
Taylor

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