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New chief of Ukraine’s Security Service: details and motives of appointment

New chief of Ukraine’s Security Service Vasyl Hrytsak. Photo: dosye.info

The figure of the new chief of Ukraine’s Security Service Vasyl Hrytsak fits perfectly into the logic of President Poroshenko’s last appointments. As many as 340 Ukrainian MPs approved his candidacy, 30 MPs abstained and only one MP voted against.

Demonstrative unanimity

On June 18, on the tip from President Poroshenko, the Supreme Rada dismissed Chief of Ukraine’s Security Service Valentyn Nalyvajchenko, who was given the office on Feb 24, 2014, right after the coup (he also held it in 2006-2010 under President Yushchenko).

The Petro Poroshenko Bloc gave Hrytsak 132 of its 144 votes, Arseny Yatsenyuk and Oleksandr Turchynov’s People’s Front gave 78 out of 81 votes, the Lyovochkin-Akhmetov-Firtash Opposition Bloc gave 35 out of 43 votes.

Hrytsak’s candidacy was also approved by 22 out of the 42 non-affiliated MPs. Among the abstainers were a few pro-Kolomoisky MPs and deputies from Andriy Sadovyi’s Self-Reliance Party. And the only parliamentarian who voted against Hrytsak was Vitalij Kuprij from the Dnipropetrovsk-based Privat Group.

Though oriented towards Kolomoisky’s Privat Group, Revival (formerly Economic Development) Party gave as many as 19 of its 22 votes. Oleh Lyashko’s Radical Party was very radical and gave Hrytsak all of its 21 votes. People’s Will Group (mostly former Party of Regions members) and Yulia Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna, each having 19 MPs, gave 18 and 15 votes, respectively.

In other words, it was some feat of demonstrative unanimity – something that could be all but a coincidence.

Why and what for?

From July, 2014, till his new appointment Colonel General Vasyl Hrytsak was Nalyvajchenko’s deputy. He has been in the security system since 1990. Starting as a Soviet KGB officer, he rose to Deputy Chief of Ukraine’s Security Service under President Yushchenko.

On Mar 12, 2010, President Yanukovych dismissed Hrytsak. The next time he appeared on stage in July, 2014, when newly elected President Petro Poroshenko appointed him as Deputy Chief of Ukraine’s Security Service and Chief of the Service’s Anti-Terror Center. The point is that in 2010-2014 Hrytsak was the chief of Poroshenko’s security service. So, naturally, when Poroshenko was elected as president, he promoted his man.

This time too Hrytsak’s appointment was Poroshenko’s initiative, so, we better consider it in the context of the Ukrainian president’s last appointments. As was in the cases of Valeriy Heletey (former defense minister, who was dismissed after the Battle of Ilovaisk), Valeria Gontareva (Governor of the National Bank) and Valeriy Chaliy (Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration), Poroshenko prefers giving important offices to people who are not just close to him but are dependent on him. It is generally known that commercial or family ties are the decisive factor in governmental appointments in Ukraine. According to the country’s Constitution, the Chief of the Security Service should be appointed by at least 226 members of the Supreme Rada based on the president’s nomination. So, we can see that Hrytsak’s appointment was good first of all for Poroshenko and his men in the parliament.

Despite his high post, Hrytsak has been neglected by mass media over the last year – even though it was he rather than the Defense Minister or the Chief of the General Staff who de jure commanded the anti-terrorist operation in Donbass.

The key question here is why the Opposition Bloc supported Hrytsak’s candidacy, while the pro-governmental Self-Reliance refused to do it. The answer will become known when Hrytsak appoints his deputies. Mostly likely he will appoint people from the forces that supported him. This voting has shown that political parties in Ukraine are still exchanging their votes for no more criminal cases against relatives.

Sergey Slobodchuk, political consultant, specially for EADaily

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