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Bandits of Yanukovich and freedom

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   Memorandum Regarding the
Visit to UCU of a representative of the
Security
Service of Ukraine (SBU) (former KGB)
(responsible for contacts with
Churches)
18 May 2010, office of the rector, 9:50-10:34

At
9:27 in the morning Fr. Borys Gudziak received a call on his private
mobile phone from a representative of the Security Service of Ukraine
requesting a meeting. The meeting was scheduled for 20 minutes later at
the rectorate of UCU. This official had had contacts with the UCU
rectorate a year ago at the time of the visit to the university of the
then President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko. He had made a visit to the
rectorate in the late afternoon on May 11 with regard to a request of
the Ecumenical and Church History Institutes to sign an agreement to use
the SBU archives. At that time members of the rectorate were away from
the office. He had, what Dr. Antoine Arjakovsky, director of the
Institute of Ecumenical Studies, called a very good meeting.

Upon
arrival on May 18 in a polite manner the agent related that certain
political parties are planning protests and demonstrations regarding the
controversial (and in some cases inflammatory) policies of the new
Ukrainian authorities. Students are to be engaged in these protests.
There is a danger that some of these manifestations may be marred by
provocations. He stated that, of course, students are allowed to protest
but that they should be warned by the university administration that
those involved in any illegal activities will be prosecuted. Illegal
activities include not only violent acts but also, for example, pickets
blocking access to the work place of government officials (or any
protests that are not sanctioned by authorities).

After his oral
presentation the agent put on the table between us an unfolded one-page
letter that was addressed to me. He asked me to read the letter and then
acknowledge with a signature my familiarity with its contents. He
stated that after I had read and signed the letter it would be necessary
for him to take the letter back. Since I could see that the document
was properly addressed to me as rector (I also noticed that it had two
signatures giving it a particularly official character) I replied calmly
that any letter addressed to me becomes my property and should stay
with me -- at least in copy form. Only under these conditions could I
agree to even read the letter (much less sign).

The agent was
evidently taken back by my response. It seemed that the situation for
him was without precedent because in my presence using his mobile phone
he called his (local) superiors to ask for instructions on how to
proceed. The superior refused permission to leave me either the original
letter or a copy, saying that the SBU fears I might publish it in the
internet. I questioned this entire procedure and the need for secrecy
and refused to look at the letter and read its contents. The young
official was disappointed and somewhat confused but did not exert
additional pressure and did not dispute my argumentation.
Our
conversation also had a pastoral moment. I cautioned the agent of the
fact that the SBU as the former KGB, with many employees remaining from
the Soviet times, has a heavy legacy of breaking and crippling people
physically and morally and that he as a young married person should be
careful not to fall into any actions that would cause lasting damage to
his own identity and shame his children and grandchildren. I sought to
express this pastorally as a priest. To his credit he both acknowledged
the past and declared his desire to serve the needs of Ukrainian
citizens. He also asked that I indicate to him if I feel that he is
exercising improper pressure.

Finally, I expressed my and the
general populations profound disappointment that the work of the SBU is
so uneven, that security and police officers live lavishly on low
salaries because they are involved in corrupt activities, and that the
legal rights of citizens and equal application of the law are severely
neglected. I gave the recent example of my cousin, Teodor Gudziak mayor
of Vynnyky, who in February 2010 (three days after the election of the
new president) was arrested in a fabricated case of bribery that was set
up by a notoriously corrupt political rival and former policemen
through the regional and city police. Despite the fact that two weeks
before the fabricated affair the mayor, based on a vote of the town
council, had given the SBU a video of plainclothes policemen breaking
into his office and safe in city hall in the middle of the night and
using town seals on various documents the SBU took no action. (The
leadership of the Church, specifically Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, fears
that by manipulated association this case may be used as a devise to
compromise the rector of UCU and the whole institution which has a
unique reputation of being free from corruption.) I also related that I
had reliable testimony and audible evidence that my phone is tapped and
has been for many months.

The population of Ukraine continues to
fear and distrust both state security and police personnel because of
the woeful track record of law enforcement and because of the diffuse
practice of police intimidation of honest politicians, journalist,
common citizens and the wonton extortion practiced by security
institutions and police with respect to middle and small business. I
asked the young agent to convey these concerns to his superiors. I had
the impression that personally he is open to moral argument but that he
also was simply doing his job. It was clear to me that he was dutifully
following orders.

During our conversation the agent asked me
about the imminent (May 20-22) General Assembly of the Federation of
European Catholic Universities (FUCE) that will be hosted by UCU in
Lviv. He characterized it as an important event (it has received
considerable publicity) and asked about the program and whether it is
open to the public. It was clear that he would have been interested in
participating in the proceedings. I said that the main theme,
Humanization of society through the work of Catholic universities, was
announced in a press release as will be the outcome of the
deliberations. The working sessions of the university rectors, however,
are not open to the public. I explained that the 211 members of the
International Federation of Catholic Universities (IFCU) and the 45
members of FUCE follow closely the development of the only Catholic
university in the former Soviet Union. They will be monitoring the
welfare of UCU, especially since in Japan in March at the annual meeting
of the Board of Consultors of IFCU I had the opportunity to describe
some of our socio-political concerns and the threats to the freedom of
intellectual discourse (imposition of Soviet historical views,
rehabilitation of Stalin and Stalinism, to whom a new monument was
unveiled in Zaporizhzhia 5 May 2010) and new censorship of the press and
television that are incompatible with normal university life.

Subsequently,
as had been arranged at the beginning of the meeting, I called in the
UCU Senior Vice Rector Dr. Taras Dobko to whom the official repeated the
SBUs concerns.

Besides noting the SBUs solicitude for
stability in Ukrainian society there are a few conclusions to be drawn
from the encounter and the proposals that were expressed:

1.
Signing a document such as the letter that was presented for signature
to me is tantamount to agreeing to cooperate (collaborate) with the SBU.
The person signing in effect agrees with the contents of the letter and
their implication. In KGB practice getting a signature on a document
that was drafted and kept by the KGB was a primary method of recruiting
secret collaborators.
2. Such methods have no known (to me) precedent
in independent Ukraine in the experience of UCU and of the Lviv
National University whose longtime rector (and former Minister of
Education, 200810) Ivan Vakarchuk I consulted immediately after the
meeting. These methods were well known in the Soviet times.
3. The
confiscation of the letter after signature makes the letter and
signature instruments to be used at the complete discretion of the SBU
4.
The possible scenarios for the exploitation of such a document include
the following:
a.) In case of the arrest of a student the SBU could
confront the rectorate and charge that the university was informed of
the danger to students and did not take necessary measures to protect
them from violence or legal harm. In this case the university
administration could be charged with both moral and legal
responsibility. A charge with legal ramifications could become an
instrument to try to force the university to compromise on some
important principle (freedom of expression, forms of social engagement
and critique, even religious practice, all of which have precedent in
recent history). Furthermore, the authorities could use such a pretext
to exert a high degree of pressure on the university to curb any and all
protest by students.
b.) After a hypothetical arrest of a student
or students the students and their parents as well as other members of
the university community could be shown the document with which the
administration was warned and counseled to curb student activities.
Since the administration did not stop the students from the activities
that became the pretext for the arrest, parents or others could draw the
conclusion that the university does not have adequate concern for the
welfare of its students. This would be a most effective way of dividing
the university community and undermining the universitys reputation
among its most important constituentsstudents.
5. The apparent
genuine surprise of the agent at my refusal to do as requested could
mean that he is not used to such a reaction. He had explained to me that
he works with clergy on a regular basis. It could be assumed that other
clergy (who work with youth, students, etc.) have been approached and
that they have not refused to sign such documents.
6. Measures of
this nature create apprehension and unease. They are meant to intimidate
university administrations and students. They are part of a whole
pattern of practice that is well known to the Ukrainian population. The
revival of such practices is a conscious attempt to revive the methods
of the Soviet totalitarian past and to re-instill fear in a society that
was only beginning to feel its freedom.
7. Since only two of the
approximately 170 universities of Ukraine have been voicing there
protest regarding recent political and educational developments and many
rectors have been marshaled/pressured to express their support
regarding the turn of events, it is clear that in recent months fear and
accommodation are returning to higher education at a rapid pace. It can
be expected that UCU will be subject to particular attention and
possible pressure in the coming months. The solidarity of the
international community, especially the academic world, will be
important in helping UCU maintain a position of principle regarding
intellectual and social freedom.
8. Speaking and writing openly about
these issues is the most peaceful and effective manner of counteracting
efforts to secretly control and intimidate students and citizens. As
was apparent during this incident, state authorities are particularly
sensitive about publicity regarding their activity. Information can have
a preemptory, corrective and curing role when it comes to planned
actions to circumscribe civic freedom, democracy, and the basic dignity
of human beings.

It should be noted that on 11 May 2010, when
Ukrainian students were organizing protest activity in Lviv as well as
Kyiv, a representative of the office of Ihor Derzhko, the Deputy Head of
the Lviv Regional Administration responsible for humanitarian affairs
called the rectorate and asked for statistics on the number of students
participating in the demonstrations. UCU's response was that the
uniersity does not know how to count in that way.

Please keep UCU
and all the students and citizens of Ukraine in your thoughts and
prayers.

Fr. Borys Gudziak
Rector, Ukrainian Catholic
University
19 May 2010
9

HE MAN

.tears ! !. , ,   - !sila

I am that power!blind

 


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