The searches at the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine and searchers of NABU staff over the past two days were purposeful attempts of the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Security Service of Ukraine to sabotage the operation concerning a high-ranking official of the State Migration Service, to frustrate the operations carried out under cover by the officers of the NABU, to disclose the NABU agent network and to intimidate the officials. The first two goals were achieved, the last two – no, reported the Director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine Artem Sytnyk at a press briefing at the Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “These attacks will not stop the work that we’ve done. It was a painful blow, but nothing critical happened, “Artem Sytnyk said.
On 29-30 November, in two conspiratorial premises of NABU searches were made. At the same time, four NABU secret staff members were kept locked for 30 hours. Also, SBU employees have made searches at the houses of 12 NABU employees and their relatives. Their property was damaged. The formal reason for such actions was the statement of the first deputy chairman of the State Migration Service of Ukraine that someone from NABU proposed a bribe to her. Artem Sytnyk noted that as of today, no NABU employee has been detained. There is no ongoing legal action concerning any NABU employee at the moment.
According to Artem Sytnyk, the security forces disrupted the operation regarding corruption in the State Migration Service of Ukraine and four other undercover operations. Operation in the State Migration Service was being prepared since April. “From the point of view of the work of anti-corruption bodies, this is simply immoral … We, like them, have information about the secretive premises [of these law enforcement agencies], but we cannot afford such actions whatsoever regardless of our relations,” – he stressed. He added that materials on violations during the searches at NABU and at the homes of the NABU staff will be sent to the General Inspectorate of the Prosecutor General’s Office in order to provide a legal assessment of the Security Service of Ukraine staff’s actions.
The NABU director said that the official explanation of the Prosecutor General’s Office regarding searches seems unfounded. “The position of the General Prosecutor’s Office is unclear when the operation on Rosenblat is called ‘perfect’, but the same operation with the same methods (and, incidentally, both were conducted jointly with the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States, perhaps only the legend was slightly changed), is called ‘provocation’, – the NABU director emphasized. – I said and I repeat once again: the first deputy head of the State Migration Service was not an intruder, expected to detain – we expected to detain a large-scale corrupt scheme exactly at the Migration Service”. Artem Sytnyk added that if an official of the State Migration Service of Ukraine wanted to declare a bribe provocation, in this situation according to the investigation requirements, the application should have been filed to the NABU.
He also stressed that he disagrees with the criticism of senior officials who call the situation an “interagency war”. “This is not an ‘interagency war’. This is the taking of all possible measures in order to stop anti-corruption reform in Ukraine. There are ambitions of specific heads of individual law enforcement agencies and the state to stop what has happened now: an independent anti-corruption body has been created. It receives a significant amount of criticism but showed what was not previously possible in Ukraine […], we are as close as possible to the creation of an anticorruption court. All these attacks result from the feeling that the punishment is already so close. And if no one will stop the anti-corruption reform, it will become a reality in the nearest future”, stated Artem Sytnyk. He stressed that the situation with the persecution of anti-corruption bodies could have serious consequences for the image of Ukraine on the international arena.
Artem Sytnyk stressed that the main reason for the failure of the operation was the impossibility of NABU to remove independently information from the communication channels. In order to guarantee for anti-corruption authorities an effective work, it is critically important for them to give the right to withdraw information on their own. “If there is no stand-alone withdrawal of information from communication channels – the risks are permanent […] Whatever the secret operation is – unfortunately, the data sources of information about which persons – this information is accessible to our colleagues in the Security Service of Ukraine. And this information was used to recapture this person, and using a formal statement about the mythical provocation of a bribe, to break this operation”, he explained. “I do not believe in the adoption of such a law in the near future, but we will not stop work in this direction,” Artem Sytnyk added.
“We will not stop. Firstly, we have young, ambitious people working to achieve the goals that we set ourselves. Secondly, we have done too much not to bring it to an end. For myself, I see a recipe that will allow us to continue our work – apolitical, not selectivity and compliance with the law”, summed up the NABU director.