Reform of security services needs to result in changed perception of their role by society – experts


Kyiv, October 30, 2015. Reform of Ukraine’s state security services needs to translate into increased trust to them from society. Such a conclusion was achieved by participants of the round table “Reforming security bodies, civic and parliamentary control” held at Ukraine Crisis Media Center in the framework of the Ukraine Reforms Communications Taskforce project.

Opening the event Ivan Počuch, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Czech Republic in Ukraine, noted that according to him the reform of Ukraine’s security sector needs to take two directions. First of all, the interests that should be in focus are those of society as a whole, not those of particular political figures. Secondly, the reform must be consistent. “Reform consistency can be secured only if there is a clear understanding of  identified bodies fulfilling  identified functions. It is not an easy task. But Ukraine is not alone. You have political and macrofinancial support from the European Union,” emphasized Počuch.

In course of the round table, former representatives of the Security Information Service of the Czech Republic shared their experience of reforming the above-mentioned body. It was reformed within three years in the times of political transformations. Reshaping of the agency happened through splitting of the then Security Service into two institutions: a counterintelligence agency and the ministry of interior. Around 8000 of staff (about 80%) were fired in course of reform. The service’s structure was drastically changed including its territorial aspect: the number of regional offices was considerably cut. “Central authorities structure can be changed gradually, in a similar way the tax system can be changed. But one cannot do the same with the Security Service,” said Jiří Novotný, ex-Head of the Czechoslovakian Security Information Service (Counterintelligence Agency).

Zdeněk Vodsloň, former official at the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Czech Republic added: “The reform needs to be conducted without looking back at the staff. At first the structure needs to be defined and only later it needs to be filled with people. In parallel, quality training of staff needs to be organized,” noted Vodsloň.

Ukrainian experts noted that Ukraine currently does not have a unified position regarding reforming its security services. “Development of a reform concept was started back in times of Presidents Yushchenko and Yanukovych. But there has been no movement forward. There are no international examples when the security service would reform itself from inside – that is what is currently suggested in Ukraine. It actually continues the old path,” emphasized Mykola Sungurovskyi, director of military programs at Razumkov Centre.

Andriy Gnidets, expert at the Reanimation Package of Reforms, thinks that in course of reform the government needs to work  on issues such as jurisdiction of cases, deprive the security bodies of functions that are untypical for them, introduce parliamentary control over their activities etc. “A new law on security service needs to be drafted. The current law is too much a framework law. But we have to decide: what model for the Security Service are we choosing?” said Hnidets.

Czech experts are ready to join the work and help the Ukrainian side to work out the reform vision. “We made a lot of mistakes in course of transition from the security sector of Czechoslovakia. We were also coming to “dead ends” several times. We are ready to share our experience with our Ukrainian colleagues,” summarized Novotný.

Other participants of the round table included:

Serhiy Shekhnenko, representative of Ukraine’s Security Service Central Directorate

Bohdan Sokrut, representative of Ukraine’s Security Service Central Office

Sergiy Sukhariov, expert at the Union for Assistance to Ukraine’s Defense

Denys Vasyliev, expert at the Reanimation Package of Reforms

Iuriy Chyzhmar, expert at the Reanimation Package of Reforms