Another priest resigns in Poland due to his former contacts with Communist secret police
More popular faces joining ignoble crowd as Poland’s campaign to uncover Communist agents continues
Toronto Sun: itâ€™s time for the EU to define Communist secret police as criminals
Czech Academy defends decision to strip theologian of medal over Communist collaboratorâ€™s past
Hungarian secret service spokesman denies Communist collaboration claimsÂ
Communist secret police collaborated with 80 priests from Bosnia and HerzegovinaÂ¼br /> Helsinki Committee opposes draft law on lustration in MacedoniaÂ¼br /> Croatian intelligence officers urged witness to tell liesÂ¼br /> CIA says war crimes suspects were protected Croatian authorities
Top leaders knew about crimes in Kosovo, Serbian counterintelligence ex-head saysÂ¼br /> Ukraine’s Kinakh concerned about chaotic reform in Security ServiceÂ¼br /> Ukraineâ€™s Security Service issued sanction to persona non grata to attend Prime Ministerâ€™s associateâ€™s funeral
London police do not comment on report they identified Litvinenkoâ€™s killerÂ¼br /> Russia suspends probe into alleged Berezovsky coup attempt to concentrate on Litvinenko caseÂ¼br /> National Security Ministry and Armed Forces as a decisive factor in Turkmenistan?
Communist secret police collaborated with 80 priests from Bosnia and HerzegovinaÂ¼br /> Helsinki Committee opposes draft law on lustration in MacedoniaÂ¼br /> Croatian intelligence officers urged witness to tell liesÂ¼br /> CIA says war crimes suspects were protected Croatian authoritiesTop leaders knew about crimes in Kosovo, Serbian counterintelligence ex-head saysÂ¼br /> Ukraine’s Kinakh concerned about chaotic reform in Security ServiceÂ¼br /> Ukraineâ€™s Security Service issued sanction to persona non grata to attend Prime Ministerâ€™s associateâ€™s funeralLondon police do not comment on report they identified Litvinenkoâ€™s killerÂ¼br /> Russia suspends probe into alleged Berezovsky coup attempt to concentrate on Litvinenko caseÂ¼br /> National Security Ministry and Armed Forces as a decisive factor in Turkmenistan?Another priest resigns in Poland due to his former contacts with Communist secret police
Another priest has resigned in the Krakow archdiocese in Poland. Rev. Mieczyslaw Lukaszczyk announced about his resignation from the functions of the dean of the parish of St.Catherine in Nowy Targ, daily Rzeczpospolita reports. Robert Necek, spokesman of the Krakow archdiocese, told the press that Cardinal Stanislaw DziwiszÂ had accepted this resignation. Similar to the case of the resigned two weeks earlier dean of the Wawel cathedral, Rev. Janusz Bielanski, the curia informed that this is connected “with the repeated accusations of collaboration with the security services of the Peopleâ€™s Republic of Polandâ€. Both, Rev. Lukaszczyk and Rev. Bielanski are colleagues of Cardinal Dziwisz from the same graduation year from the seminary. Both have had friendly ties with the metropolitan. Rev. Lukaszczyk is a known and respected churchman. It was Tygodnik Podhalanski that in June 2006 wrote about his contacts with the SB under a nickname of Turysta. Rev. Lukaszczyk did not want to talk to journalists then.
It follows from the IPN files that the SB found him when he worked in Gilowice, a native village of student Stanislawa Pyjas, who died felling down from the stairs in the SB office in May 1977. He was questioned about different details from the studentâ€™s family life, says Jerzy Jurecki, author of the article in the Tygodnik Podhalanski. The SB documents show that the clergyman was eventually recruited in June 1979 and collaborated with the secret police till 1989. He was used also to try to get some additional information on Rev. Dziwisz.
One of Krakow historians acknowledge that this case is however not a â€˜classical caseâ€™ of an informer. For instance, there is a report in the files of Turysta, dated 1985, when a SB officer writes that Turysta is not directly connected with the SB and â€œdoes not know that our contacts cooperate with him (…). The cooperation should be interpreted in this stage as a dialogue, and the meetings should be made more systematic.”
Rev. Lukaszczyk dramatically tried to get rid of the secret police network closing around him. At the same time he accepted from the SB officers packs of coffee, bottles of cognac, and on the occasion of his 25th anniversary of his church service he received a Pelikan pen as a gift, according to Jurecki. In his conversations with the security service officers he sharply criticized Communism and attitude of the USSR towards Catholics, tried to avoid giving characteristics of particular persons.
Rzeczpospolita has revealed that the results of examination of the case of Turysta will be publicized in one of the first brochures in a series, devoted to surveillance of the church in Krakow by the SB, being prepared by the researchers of the Polish Theological Academy and IPN. Series of articles will start to be published at the end of March.
More popular faces joining ignoble crowd as Poland’s campaign to uncover Communist agents continues
As the government’s campaign to uncover agents and informers of the Communist secret services (SB) continues, more unexpected and popular faces are joining the ignoble crowd, Warsaw Business Journal (WBJ) noted today.
Boguslaw Woloszanski, the writer and host of the popular television series Sensations of the 20th Century, and the author of the subsequent series of books, is the latest high-profile name to be revealed from the list.
According to WBJ, Woloszanski is accused of cooperating with the SB between 1985 and 1988, when he was a radio and TV correspondent in London. During his stay there he informed the secret services on popular sentiment in the UK and about his meetings with businesspeople, politicians and journalists. His supervisors wanted him to infiltrate the circles of the Polish Diaspora, but apparently Woloszanski didn’t perform well in that field.
Woloszanski himself claims that he didn’t harm anyone and that his work was limited to analyzing the British government’s policies. He also said, “It was an occasion to learn about the functioning of the secret services.” Apparently he didn’t receive financial reward for his work, only refunds on his lunch expenses and job-related travel.
The journalist, who took a degree in law at Warsaw University, gained renown for his Sensations TV series, in which he presented unsolved mysteries from WWII, spy and secret service intrigues and hypothetical re-enactments that earned him criticism from historians but were broadly popular. Woloszanski is also the author of The Encyclopedia of WWII.
Toronto Sun: itâ€™s time for the EU to define Communist secret police as criminals
Toronto Sun writes in the weekend edition that the sinister residue of Communist-era intelligence and security systems still infects Europe and Russia. Looking back at Warsaw’s archbishop, Stanislaw Wielgus, affair, the paper notes that the Soviet KGB planted numerous agents in Poland’s Catholic Church and the Vatican; many still remain active. Most of the Soviet Union’s Orthodox clergy were KGB agents, as were most Muslim mullahs in Soviet Central Asia, the daily writes. For example, KGB general Pavel Sudoplatov, who organized Leon Trotsky’s murder, even claimed GRU and KGB had three agents in Franklin Roosevelt’s wartime White House. The late French Socialist Defense Minister Charles Hernu was exposed in 1996 as a longtime KGB agent, Toronto Sun adds. After Communism’s collapse, its intelligence agents and their precious files were absorbed into Europe’s new security agencies, or retired on full pensions, the paper continues. Many became “businessmen,” notably in Russia, where they grew rich from blackmail, extortion, and protection.
In East Germany, one in five people were informers for Stasi, the security police. The socialist state controlled every aspect of life and any “anti-state” or “deviationist” activities were immediately reported. â€œMalefactors could lose their homes and jobs; their parents denied pensions; their children’s futures ruined. This system ensured everyone became a little secret policeman and reported relatives, friends, and co-workers.â€ The paper stresses that it was very easy for Communist regimes to enlist informers and agents. Informing brought job advancement, better apartments, foreign travel and access to western goods, it marks.
The author of the article, Eric Margolis, says in the 1980s, he faced one of Eastern Europe’s most vicious Communist secret police, the Sluzba Bezpieczenstwa, or SB, that threatened his distant relatives with prison and torture in an effort to get Margolis to write articles attacking the regime’s various enemies. He says he finally managed to end it by threatening to kill the specific agents who were menacing him.
Poland’s Prime Minister, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, has tabled legislation to exclude former Communist secret police agents from public jobs and reduce or end their state pensions, according to Toronto Sun. As well, the law declares the SB and its former agents “a criminal organization.”
It is time for the European Union to enact legislation similar to Poland’s, defining the communist secret police and their political leaders as the criminals they were, the paper points out. Poland should be hailed for exposing Communist criminals and their pawns, Toronto Sun says. Now, it’s time for Eastern Europe’s other nations, Ukraine and Russia, to do the same, the paper underlines.
Czech Academy defends decision to strip theologian of medal over Communist collaboratorâ€™s past
The Czech Academy of Sciences is defending its recent decision to strip a renowned theologian of a prestigious scholarship medal over his alleged links to the StB, the Communist-era Czechoslovakia secret police, according to The Prague Post.
Jindrich Holecek, a lecturer at the Faculty of Theology in Olomouc, figures on a list of known secret police collaborators. He is accused of spying for the Communist regime, reporting on Czech priests in exile in Vatican City during the early 1980s. The charges surfaced late last month, when close to 30 academy members circulated a petition to have Holecek’s name removed from the list of Jan Patocka Medal winners. Academy President Vaclav Paces told The Prague Post that he personally had got the information of Holecek’s alleged collaboration from the petition and immediately asked for an investigation. Holecek, who could not be reached for comment, has agreed to return the medal.
The Czech weekly says the Holecek case has some similarities with the archbishop Stanislaw Wielgusâ€™Â affair in Poland. Both Wielgus and Holecek spied on the activities of local clergy who had been exiled in Rome. Using the code name Cerich, Holecek went to the Vatican in 1982. Reports do not detail how long Holecek’s collaboration continued, but they do say that he got regular bonuses. With the Holecek and Wielgus cases, the issue of lustration â€” the act of vetting public officials to determine whether they collaborated with communist regimes â€” is once again a subject of discussion, if not outright debate, The Prague Post writes.
The Czech Republic has had a lustration law on the books since 1991 and has set the pace for most former Eastern bloc countries in dealing with their pasts. Throughout the 1990s, more than 300,000 Czechs were screened under the lustration law, with about 5 percent banned from public offices over their pasts, according to the weekly. The offices from which former regime hands are banned include the government, high-level civil service, security service, state-owned businesses, the central bank, the national railway, high academic positions and the judiciary.
The last time lustration surfaced significantly in the Czech Republic in 2005, when two high-level judges were accused of prosecuting dissidents during the Communist era, The Prague Post recalls. While the names of those two judges â€” Jitka Horova and Vlasta Formankova â€” were eventually cleared, the Justice Ministry launched an investigation into the pasts of some 60 judges to verify that all had the certificate required under the lustration law.
Hungarian secret service spokesman denies Communist collaboration claims
Peter Vajda, spokesman for the Hungarian civilian secret services, has denied to the weekly Het Vilaggaszdasag that he worked for the Communist counter-intelligence agency in the 1950s.
Vajda was reacting to allegations made by the noted Austrian-Hungarian columnist Paul Lendvai, who told the magazine from Vienna that Vajda had been a “a journalist-informer of the Stalin era known throughout the city.” In his interview, Lendvai quoted his semi-autobiographical work Crossing the Border, that he wrote serving alongside Vajda during his military service. Vajda had behaved like a close friend while watching him all the time and delivering regular reports to the counter-intelligence services. Some 10 years later, in December 1960, the leading Communist-controlled daily Nepszabadsag published an article fiercely critical of Lendvai. Vajda wrote this piece under the pseudonym Mohacsi, the columnist claims.
However, Vajda denies the allegations. Vajda mentioned the Nepszabadsag article, saying it was supposedly written by one Istvan Mohacsi, that attacked Lendvai. He also mentioned a report written by a then-correspondent for the Hungarian Press Agency (MTI) and said he had nothing to do with it.
Communist secret police collaborated with 80 priests from Bosnia and Herzegovina
Some 80 Catholic priests from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH)Â had collaborated with the Communist-era secret police organization UDBA, Croatian daily Vecernje Novosti said.
UDBA, the State Security Directorate of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY), kept files on each priest and it urged them to cooperate in the fight against “the enemies of the constitutional and social order in SFRY”, news agency Makfax adds.
The recruiting of churchmen in Bosnia was carried out in accordance with identical methods reminiscent of the Communist intelligence services in Poland. A scandal broke out in Poland recently after a bishop admitted to being a former Communist spy, as the archbishop of Warsaw, Stanislaw Wielgus, admitted he spied for Poland’s former Communist regime.Â UDBA infiltrated spies also in Croatia and Serbia, Vecernji Novosti said, adding UDBA had treated the churches in the old Yugoslav federation as “domestic enemy”.
Helsinki Committee opposes draft law on lustration in Macedonia
The Macedonian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights believes that the proposed draft law on lustration is defective and shall contribute, albeit indirectly, to new large-scale violations of human rights and freedoms, news agency Makfax reports. The latest report released by the MHC states that the draft law contains such clauses that donâ€™t guarantee increased levels of protection for human rights and freedoms and rule of law, but may actually lead to weakening of these two principles.
According to MHC, the faults are related to the very contents of the draft, its underlining idea and the past negative experiences in the countries that adopted such legislation. The law is opposed, adds the Committee, to the fundamental principles of the concept of human rights and freedoms. The same report also carries negative assessment of the judicial branch of government, because of its attempts to suppress the freedom of speech.
Croatian intelligence officers urged witness to tell lies
Croatian intelligence officers asked a Serbian man to falsely say he saw accused war criminal Dragan Vasiljkovic “hitting and slapping prisoners”, a Sydney court has been told, according to The Australian. Croatia is seeking the extradition of Vasiljkovic from Australia over his alleged involvement in war crimes between 1991 and 1993.
Vasiljkovic, an Australian citizen, known to his supporters as Captain Dragan, is accused of killing civilians and instructing others to commit murder during his time as a commander of the Alpha group of Serb paramilitary troops, the paper writes. He is also alleged to have fired on a civilian city and to have attacked at least one person himself, hitting him in head and causing brain bleeding.
The former Serbian communications officer at the Alpha military training ground, Nikola Bajic, gave evidence to Vasiljkovic’s extradition hearing via telephone. He said two Croatian intelligence officers told him they would look after him if he gave evidence that Vasiljkovic had abused prisoners. “They asked me to say that I saw Captain Dragan hitting prisoners,” The Australian is quoting Bajic as saying. He said the officers offered him incentives to make the claims. Under cross-examination from the lawyer who is acting for Croatia, Bajic denied he was making up the claims to help Vasiljkovic.
In his turn, Vasiljkovic announced in the court his guilt was “predetermined” in Croatia, where he was being persecuted because of his political beliefs and nationality. Deputy Chief Magistrate Paul Cloran will hand down a decision on Croatia’s extradition bid on March 22, according to the daily.
CIA says war crimes suspects were protected Croatian authorities
The Croatian authorities failed to arrest war crimes suspect Tomislav Mercep, a former paramilitary formations commander and one of former Croatian President Franjo Tudjman’s closest associates, because he was protected by his powerful political friends, a newly declassified US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) document says. AIA shortly reportedÂ on this January 10, referring to the Belgrade-based dailyâ€™s Blic online edition.
News agency AKI â€“ Adnkronos International — expanded on the 1995 report that was recently posted to the CIA website, restocking emotions in European Union candidate country Croatia and in Serbia. “The allegations [regarding Mercep] have gained credence by the wide range of sources independently providing the same information,â€ the CIA report said. “Many of the charges have been backed up by the fact-finding missions of reputable international human rights organizations, such as the UN, and the discovery of bodies and mass graves in areas where the atrocities reportedly occurred, the report added.
Croatian state prosecutor Mladen Bajic told daily Vjesnik that the report’s findings are not being ignored and are being intensively examined. Mercep, one of the founders of Tudjmanâ€™s Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), which led the country to independence from former Yugoslavia, himself told Croatian media the CIA report was “stupid” and not worth dignifying with a comment. He has been blamed for crimes against Serb civilians in the eastern town of Vukovar, central town of Pakrac and Gospic in the west. Hundreds of people were killed, up to 3,000 are still listed as missing and close to 200 Serb villages were burned and razed to the ground in the areas where Mercepâ€™s paramilitary units operated in the fall of 1991, the CIA report said.
Quoting Croatian press reports, the CIA said that special government representative warned Tudjman in a confidential letter of atrocities committed by Mercepâ€™s forces. Despite this, Mercep was subsequently transferred to Zagreb and promoted to deputy interior minister. After the war, Mercep became a HDZ member of the Croatian parliament and is currently president of a powerful war veteransâ€™ organization, which has over 200,000 members. Tudjman, who died in 1999, but also current president, Stipe Mesic, and parliament president Vladimir Seks, who were close Tudjmanâ€™s allies in the 1990s, must have known about Mercepâ€™s alleged crimes, but did nothing, several local press reports said.
The documentation on Mercepâ€™s alleged crimes was submitted by the Serbian authorities to the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at the Hague in the mid-1990s. However, according to AKI, the tribunal, which aims to wind up its operations in 2008, last February passed on the case to the Zagreb authorities.
Top leaders knew about crimes in Kosovo, Serbian counterintelligence ex-head says
Today at the Hague Court continues evidence of Major-General Aleksandar Vasiljevic, former head of Serbian counter-intelligence (KOS), who told the court last week that the army and the police blamed each other, and how Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic dealt with the killings of Albanian civilians, radio B92 reports.
In April 1999, Vasiljevic agreed to become the deputy head of the KOS. He had retired seven years earlier after his dismissal as KOS chief. In the first few months after the war broke out the military intelligence service had no information about the crimes in Kosovo, he claims.
Vasiljevic downplayed the responsibility of the Yugoslav Army for the crimes against Kosovo Albanians. He did admit, however, that by mid-May 1999, the top Serbian military and political structures had known about them. He received the first reports of the killings, looting and rapes of ethnic Albanians on May 8. Among the incidents he was informed about was the killing of 12 Albanian civilians in Podujevo by the Skorpioni, who were under the command of the Special Antiterrorist Units in the Serbian Interior Ministry (MUP).
Yugoslav Military Chief of Staff General Nebojsa Pavkovic, the witness testified, told him and Dragoljub Ojdanic, Chief of Armyâ€™s General Staff, that he had carried out an internal military investigation on alleged death of 800 Kosovo Albanians. He established that there were 326 bodies of Albanians in the areas under the police control and 271 bodies in the areas controlled by the military.
High-ranking military officials reported everything they knew to Slobodan Milosevic on May 17 at the meeting attended by generals Ojdanic and Pavkovic, Geza Farkas, head of military intelligence service, Rade Markovic, head of police intelligence section, and Nikola Sainovic, Milosevic’s man in charge of Kosovo. Milosevic allegedly referred to the Scorpions commander, Slobodan Medic, by his nickname Boca, saying he should be removed from the post. Vasiljevic mentioned also the Special Operations Unit (JSO) and Arkanâ€™s Tigers, that both fought in Kosovo under the command of the Interior Ministry and are said to have conscripted criminals.
Ukraine’s Kinakh concerned about chaotic reform in Security Service
The chairman of the Ukrainian parliament’s Committee for National Security and Defense Anatoly KinakhÂ is concerned about attempts to politicizeÂ Ukrainian law enforcement bodies, news agency Interfax reports.
“Very negative processes are occurring in Ukraine when the agencies that are supposed to defend the constitution, to act according to the principles of the supremacy of law, equality before the law – and these are primarily the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office, the judicial branch of power, law enforcement bodies – start being used for the so- called selective overcoming of corruption, that is to act on political instructions,” Kinakh, ex-secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, said at a press conference in Kiev, adding that these are “unacceptable things.”
Kinakh also said he is quite concerned about attempts at chaotic reform of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) and the fact that it still has no chairman, as well as the attempts at a “mass personnel purge” at the countryâ€™s Interior Ministry. Earlier this week Kinakh expressedÂ his strong opinion that in the prime order it is necessary to consider and approve the bill of activity of the Security Service of Ukraine. Kinakh underlined that the concept of reforming of the SBU should take place on the basis of depolitization of the agencyâ€™s activity, strengthening of its basic counterintelligence function that is being prepared by the Interdepartmental commission on the SBU reforming, established according to the Decree of the President.
Ukraineâ€™s Security Service issued sanction to persona non grata to attend Prime Ministerâ€™s associateâ€™s funeral
Security Service of Ukraine has issued a single entrance visa to Ukraine to the member of the State Duma of Russia, Konstantin Zatulin, news agency UNIAN reports.
According to the Press Secretary of the Kharkov borderguard service group, Dmitry Gorkoltsev, Zatulin, who is officially forbiddenÂ to enter Ukraine, has spent two days in Kharkov on the lawful bases, UNIAN says.
Referring to Gorkoltsev, the news agency reports that a directive of the head of the Security Service of Ukraine and the administration of the State Borderguard Service stated that Â«Zatulin is allowed a disposable entrance into the territory of Ukraine from January 18 till January 20Â». The Russian lawmaker arrived to Kharkov to participation in the funeral of the People’s Deputy of Ukraine from the Party of Regions, Yevgeny Kushnaryov, on January 19, the Press Secretary said.
UNIAN noted that on June 3, 2006, the SBU had forbidden Konstantin Zatulin to enter Ukraine for taking part in the protest actions against the military maneuvers under aegis of NATO in Feodosiya, Ukraine. The SBU explained that Zatulinâ€™s actions and acts had been directed at destruction of integrity of the Ukrainian state.
On December 4, 2006, the SBU had already allowed Konstantin Zatulin to temporarily disposable enter the territory of Ukraine for participation in the 7th session of the Interparliamentary Commission on Cooperation of the Supreme Rada of Ukraine and Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, that was taking place in Kiev on December 4-6, 2006.
Security Service of Ukraine has issued a single entrance visa to Ukraine to the member of the State Duma of Russia, Konstantin Zatulin, news agency UNIAN reports.According to the Press Secretary of the Kharkov borderguard service group, Dmitry Gorkoltsev, Zatulin, who is officially forbiddenÂ to enter Ukraine, has spent two days in Kharkov on the lawful bases, UNIAN says.Referring to Gorkoltsev, the news agency reports that a directive of the head of the Security Service of Ukraine and the administration of the State Borderguard Service stated that Â«Zatulin is allowed a disposable entrance into the territory of Ukraine from January 18 till January 20Â». The Russian lawmaker arrived to Kharkov to participation in the funeral of the People’s Deputy of Ukraine from the Party of Regions, Yevgeny Kushnaryov, on January 19, the Press Secretary said.UNIAN noted that on June 3, 2006, the SBU had forbidden Konstantin Zatulin to enter Ukraine for taking part in the protest actions against the military maneuvers under aegis of NATO in Feodosiya, Ukraine. The SBU explained that Zatulinâ€™s actions and acts had been directed at destruction of integrity of the Ukrainian state.On December 4, 2006, the SBU had already allowed Konstantin Zatulin to temporarily disposable enter the territory of Ukraine for participation in the 7th session of the Interparliamentary Commission on Cooperation of the Supreme Rada of Ukraine and Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, that was taking place in Kiev on December 4-6, 2006.London police do not comment on report they identified Litvinenkoâ€™s killer
British police declined to comment yesterday on a report that they had identified the suspect killer of the former Russian intelligence officer Alexander Litvinenko in London, news agencies are reporting.
AIA already wrote about the report printed by The Times newspaper that said the police had identified a man they believe poisoned Russian ex-counterintelligence officer Alexander Litvinenko, using security video from Heathrow Airport. The suspect is described as tall, well-built and dark-haired with Central Asian features. Police said the man was matching a description given by Litvinenko to images from security cameras at Heathrow airport. Scotland Yard thinks the man mixed polonium-210 in some tea that he gave to Litvinenko when they met in a room in a London hotel.
Police have not released the footage taken by closed-circuit security cameras. “We are not prepared to discuss (details of the case),” a police spokeswoman said.
Russia suspends probe into alleged Berezovsky coup attempt to concentrate on Litvinenko case
Russia’s top prosecutors said today they had suspended a probe against Boris Berezovsky, 60, charged with attempting to stage a coup, news agency RIA Novosti reports, referring to a fugitive billionaire’s lawyer. He said the Prosecutor General’s Office had notified them that the investigation had been completed and that further action against the suspect was impossible in his absence.
In an interview with Ekho Moskvy, Berezovsky said also today that â€œas the Prosecutor General’s Office was going to send investigators to London, it wanted to demonstrate that they had no reason to meet him but Litvinenko case.â€
Berezovsky repeatedly said he would answer only those questions that were concerning investigation of the ex-FSB agentâ€™s poisoning. Russian prosecutors opened a new criminal case against Berezovsky after he told radio Ekho Moskvy in January 2006 that that any violent action on the opposition’s part would be justified and “that included taking power by force, which was exactly what I was working on.” The press service of the Prosecutor General’s Office said it was checking the report.
National Security Ministry and Armed Forces as a decisive factor in Turkmenistan?Â
As Turkmenistan is preparing for the presidential election in February to replace the late authoritarian leader Saparmurat Niyazov, after 21 years of unchallenged rule, there are a lot of speculations today about the next President of Turkmenistan and the circumstances that may influence the outcome of the polls.
Turkmens last elected a president in 1992, giving Niyazov 95.5 percent of their votes. Niyazov, Turkmenistan’s President for life, who called himself Turkmenbashi â€” Father of All Turkmen â€” tolerated no dissent and cultivated an all-encompassing personality cult.
Many experts predict an escalation of conflicts that are going to be caused by external powers and that will involve different social layers of Turkmenistan. International Herald Tribune notes that the Turkmen government announced new election rules December 28, that suggest presidential polls will be strictly controlled by the authorities. The law, which was adopted by the People’s Council, also said the meetings with voters of the six candidates, chosen earlier by Turkmenistan’s top legislative body, must be organized by local authorities, signaling that they will be subject to official control. According to the paper, the move dimmed hopes for reform following the death of Niyazov.
The experts agree that the National Security Ministry and Interior Ministry and the Presidential Security Service could lay claim to power or at least dictate a successor. “For several years, Niyazov has been regularly purging the elite. On average, ministers stayed in office for six months and then were sacked or sent to jail,” Defense News is quoting Andrei Grozin of the CIS Institute think tank as saying. He underlined that all major figures had been exterminated and the national elite was â€œa grey mass with no political influenceâ€. This created a big number of hopefuls, none of whom has real influence, according to Grozin.
Niyazovâ€™s purges were chiefly aimed at sidelining officials before they could build a power base. Some were jailed, others fled to join the ranks of Turkmenistanâ€™s exiled opposition, Defense News writes.
However, Grozinâ€™s statement that the current situation has left the way open for a power grab by someone with armed people under his command is arguable. The acting President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov emerged as the heir apparent to the late Niyazov, after the countryâ€™s main legislature rewrote the constitution to allow the interim leader to run in Februaryâ€™s presidential elections. The St.Petersburg Times cites Murad Kariyev, the elections chief, who said Berdymukhamedov was almost certain to win. â€œWe could elect Gurbanguli Myalikgulyevich as president right now,â€ he said, respectfully using Berdymukhamedovâ€™s first name and patronymic, â€œbut we will not deviate from laws set by our great leader.â€
The Turkmenbashi based his authoritarian rule exactly on the security services and Armed Forces, so they will be of crucial importance during the period preceding the February presidential election in Turkmenistan, online paper Gazeta.kz writes. Taking into consideration the situation in the Central Asian country and the distribution of the armed forces around the territory of Turkmenistan, the paper suggests that the army and security forces will be used under various pretexts for maintaining public order in Turkmenistan, and simultaneously different clans will try to use them for their own benefit. In this sense the Presidential Security Service, the Ministry of Interior, and the National Security Committee will play the most active role in the struggle for power. However, at the moment there is no evident reason for the acting President to use the troops and security services to stronger support internal stability in the country.