It is an open secret that corridors of power in the former Soviet Union have been pervaded by representatives of intelligence community. President of Georgia Edouard Shevardnadze was a head of Soviet Georgia’s KGB. His Azeri counterpart, Geydar Aliyev, was a chief of Soviet Azerbaijan’s KGB. Kazakh Prime Ministers, namely – Akezhan Kazhegeldin, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, and Karim Massimov, have been KGB officers. Even the former Georgian President, Mikheil Saakashvili, despite all his populist rhetoric was a KGB man. Because, he was a border guard in the Soviet days, and the frontier service was under the aegis of KGB. Besides, the flamboyant Georgian graduated from a foreign relations department of the Kyiv University, which was also under the control of the Soviet intelligence service. In this respect, the Ukrainian establishment has been occupied by proxies of intelligence community to a lesser extent. A prominent politician of Ukraine, Valentin Nalivaichenko, has good chances to strengthen the presence of KGB operatives in the top management of the country. A fellow student and friend of Mr. Saakashvili, the Ukrainian spy has set out an ambitious plan to conquer the power in the country.
In September 2017, just a few days prior to the border-breaking return of a dissenting ex-governor of the Odessa Region Mr. Saakashvili to Ukraine, I was an eye-witness of a populist rally in the center of Kyiv, staged by pro-presidential forces. A political activist eloquently described Mr. Nalivaichenko as one of the masterminds behind Mr. Saakashvili’s planned return to the country. No wonder that the Ukrainian spy was among the Georgian’s supporters during the border-breach event. He even was fined some $120 for the border trespassing. Perhaps, the spy himself had proposed an ingenious idea to cross the border in an unorthodox way. In December 2017, I was an eye-witness of a brief visit, paid by Mr. Nalivaichenko to a tent camp, populated by protesters, near the Ukrainian parliament. The experienced intelligence officer spoke a little during the visit. He was a no-nonsense visitor, who actually inspected the condition of the camp and its readiness to put up resistance to presidential forces. He was like an eminence grise, sneaking around his proxies.
But, at the beginning of 2018 a Crimean Tatar, Ruslan, told me that the tent camp is a hoax. The Crimean Tatar in his thirties was quite sure that both President Poroshenko and the so-called opposition are, in fact, play the same game in order to cajole more money from the West. So, the President, according to the young man’s opinion, pretended to be a guardian of law and order, fighting the illegal camp, populated by dubious characters. At the same time, “the opposition” looked like a dynamic group, who bravely struggles against the chocolate tyrant-to-be. Such ambiguous games are not alien to the Ukrainian spy. When they lost Crimea to Russia in 2014, both Acting President Alexander Turchinov and Mr. Nalivaichenko as the Head of SBU were notable for their aggressive rhetoric against Russian invaders. But, that is all. As a matter of fact, the Acting President and his chief of secret police willingly ceded the precious peninsula to the enemy. With all calamities, which fell upon Ukraine, the country still had one of the strongest conventional armies in the world, together with diversified military-industrial complex – one of the largest in the world, too. But, due to harmful top management of Ukraine, including Mr. Nalivaichenko, Russian invaders met no resistance whatsoever! Brave boxer Vitali Klitschko, leader of UDAR Party, proved to be a political coward, who did nothing to stop Russian aggression in Crimea. Incidentally, the Ukrainian spy was once a member of parliament, representing UDAR Party. By contrast, in 1994 the first Russian attempt to annex Crimea failed, because professional Ukrainian soldiers and spies were loyal to their homeland. These heroes had not luxury apartments and posh automobiles, as their successors do, but, nevertheless, they dutifully carried out their obligations before the country. With much less budget and weapons, than their successors’, they managed to maintain Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity.
A retired military officer, Valery Vasilyuk, told me in December 2017 that someone might be a twice member of parliament, but even then, the hypothetical member of parliament is no match to General Nalivaichenko with his formidable connections. Thus, the military officer unambiguously hinted that the seeming oppositional stance of the Ukrainian spy doesn’t stop his access to a wealth of power, provided by intelligence community of Ukraine and beyond. His extensive background includes commanding positions in counterintelligence and foreign intelligence alike. An attractive personality, Mr. Nalivaichenko skyrocketed in his early days as he became a son-in-law of a former chief of the Soviet Ukraine’s KGB. Today, the Ukrainian spy has a great variety of acquaintances, ranging from an American hardliner John Bolton to Russian spymasters – fellow students of Mr. Nalivaichenko. His partners also present themselves as a motley crew, ranging from a “gas princess” Yuliya Timoshenko to reliable friends of President Yanukovich – his Head of Staff, Sergei Levochkin, and a billionaire, Dmitry Firtash. So, the Ukrainian spymaster, as a player with long-term ambitions, doesn’t put all eggs in one basket.
Now, his substantial potential to become a big figure of Ukrainian politics needs to be embodied in a public entity, like a party. Therefore, Spravedlivist (“Justice”) Movement was created, specifically tailored for Mr. Nalivaichenko’s requirements. You have to establish a party in order to act in a big way. With all its demagoguery about all-Ukrainian patriotism and democracy, the Spravedlivist Movement is actually an appendix to one ambitious leader, who strives to convert his behind-the-scenes influence into the presidential position. Ukraine’s KGB men are no worse than their Russian friends. Moreover, the Ukrainian spy has much more insignia and field experience than his Russian colleague, President Putin, who was just a director of an officers’ club in East Germany. Mr. Nalivaichenko speaks several languages, comparing with Mr. Putin who speaks broken German. So, he is more globally oriented than the Russian president. He is more educated than Mr. Putin, who actually received his diploma as an athlete of a university. Thus, the Ukrainian spy’s presidential potential follows the suit of KGB’s renaissance in the former Soviet Union. So, his electoral prospects are quite promising.
As for early elections, a member of Ukrainian Parliament, Yuri Timoshenko, told me by phone that it is quite possible, because President Poroshenko is likely to lose presidential elections. So, while he is in power, early parliamentary elections might safeguard him: with parliamentary majority Mr. Poroshenko might emerge as Prime Minister, even if he loses presidential elections. Of course, such premature elections are rather harmful to independent candidates, like Mr. Timoshenko himself, who don’t have sufficient financial or executive clout to successfully launch an unexpected electoral campaign.
On the other hand, a small-time journalist from Western Ukraine, Alex Gavrilyuk, told me in an email that early elections are out of the question. The journalist has some connections among Ukrainian lawmakers in the Verkhovnaya Rada.