Excerpt of the Omelchenko Interview on UT-1 "Era"
19 December 2004
[translated by BBC Monitoring]
The following is an excerpt from Omelchenko's interview with private Era TV broadcast via the Ukrainian state-owned television UT1 on 19 December, monitored in progress:
(Omelchenko) I have information from reliable sources, to be absolutely frank, from an FSB (Russian intelligence) officer. I have known him since the early 1990s. The second piece of information is from an officer of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry. Strange as it is, the top officials of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry know about preparations for this operation, but they follow Yanukovych's order to assume an observing role, and they are not trying to stop what is going to happen on Monday, 27 and 28 December, after the presidential election.
As of today, 30 groups of 30 people each have been formed in Donetsk. These are the self-defence groups that Yanukovych was talking about. They consist of ex-convicts and those released during last year's amnesty, former special forces and a small group of sportsmen, martial arts specialists. Each group is headed by an officer of Donetsk's Berkut (special police task force) in order to coordinate these actions. This group is 30 per cent equipped with weapons. As of today, about 1,000 firearms have been brought into Donetsk, handguns and assault rifles, 90 F-1 hand grenades, 25 kg of TNT and 100 electrical fuses. The groups have already received 15 kg of explosives and 75 fuses. The specialists understand this, but to clarify for everyone, TNT comes in blocks of 200 g each. When exploded, this amount of TNT can overturn a loaded lorry and cause insane destruction. Yanukovych knows about this operation, but he is afraid to give it a go-ahead. Maybe some moral principles are holding him back. I heard today that he visited a monastery, the (Svyatohirsk) Lavra, and spoke of some things, but his close entourage, (Donetsk businessman Rinat) Akhmetov and (Deputy Prime Minister Andriy) Klyuyev, are forcing him to implement this violent scenario. The money to buy weapons came from Akhmetov. I emphasize that the weapons were purchased at arms depots of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. The fleet's commander knows about it. The Russian president himself, Vladimir Putin, knows about this operation. Putin is hesitating on moral grounds, what the consequences may be. But he knows that the weapons have been sold.
Why do I emphasize this? Because this video tape will be on Putin's desk tonight or tomorrow morning. Mr Putin, I appeal to you for the third time, as intelligence officer to a fellow intelligence officer, as colonel to a fellow colonel. Stop further sales of weapons, give an order to the commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet to stop it and take measures to return weapons back to the Russian depots. Finally, stop blatant meddling in Ukraine's internal affairs. I saw you on television today speaking at some international forum, and you said it was immoral to permit bloodshed and violence in Ukraine. Mr Putin, you have two daughters, and I have two sons. I already have grandchildren and I wish you the same. But it is up to you now to stop these processes in Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma also knows about this operation, but his position is similar to the one he took concerning the decree on printing ballots. He is just observing. But it is in Kuchma's interests that the election be disrupted or voided under various pretexts in order for him to prolong his stay in office by three or six months, or maybe even till the next autumn when the (amendments to) constitution come in effect. Since the top officials at the Interior Ministry have assumed this criminal position, I want to point out another thing. Even though the commander of the Ukrainian Interior Troops, Lt-Gen (Serhiy) Popkov, had in effect given a criminal order (to put troops on alert during opposition protests), this information has been officially received in response to my parliamentary query to the Security Service of Ukraine, instead of dismissing him and launching criminal proceedings, Kuchma issued a decree appointing Popkov deputy interior minister. After the second round of the election (21 November), when a peaceful, democratic, orange revolution began in Ukraine, Yanukovych spent several nights at Popkov's military base of the Interior Troops. Popkov, who has an alcohol problem, swore that he would carry out any order by Yanukovych in order to ensure his victory in the presidential election.
The Interior Ministry's operatives reported to their superiors about a large amount of weapons being brought into Donetsk and that those groups received them. But the Interior Ministry's top officials assumed this position.
(Passage omitted: Omelchenko calls on top security officials to prevent a violent scenario.)
Tomorrow I will try using the government phone line to call the presidential administration chief, Viktor Medvedchuk. I have many questions to him, and I have a moral right to ask questions, because I have known Medvedchuk since 1972, we went to Kiev State University together. No-one knows Medvedchuk's strengths and weaknesses and moral principles better than I do. I will discuss the situation with him.
Also, I will try calling Yanukovych before the end of the day tomorrow, I know it is the day of the presidential debate, I will try talking to him not as an MP to a presidential candidate, I hope he does not get offended, but as a security service colonel to a former archive agent of the 9th directorate of the KGB USSR. I will ask him to say live on air during the debate, to tell his self-defence groups, these 300,000 that he plans to bring to Kiev, to stay in Donetsk, to return weapons, the bats, metal rods and so on. Because he will be responsible for what happens.
Neither Kuchma nor Yanukovych nor Putin nor the Interior Ministry can now say that they did not know about the preparations for this operation. If, God forbid, anything happens in Kiev, some explosions, shootings or violence, Kuchma, Yanukovych and his entourage will face not only moral responsibility, but also criminal responsibility and the highest responsibility before God.
The complete Kyiv Post article of which only the first part is reproduced higher above, along with the excerpts from the Omelchenko interview immediately above, were among the items delivered by email on 20-Dec-2004, #318, to subscribers of The Ukraine List (UKL), compiled by Dominique Arel, Chair of Ukrainian Studies, University of Ottawa.
For a free subscription to UKL, write to [email protected]