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English \ Ukraine and the World \ Sub-rosa warfare in the Crimea

On the evening of July 24, 2008, Russian State Duma member KonstantinZatulin was banned from entering Ukraine for one year when he arrived inSimferopol airport in the Crimea with a group of Russianparliamentarians to take part in the commemoration of the 1,020thanniversary of the conversion to Christianity of Kyivan-Rus. TheUkrainian Security Service, the SBU, announced that it initiated acriminal case against him for "attempting to destabilize public order"(Ukrayinska Pravda, July 25).


The Zatulin affair occurred the same day that Ukrainian President ViktorYushchenko once again brought up the need to immediately begin talksbetween Russia and Ukraine on the removal of the Russian Black Sea fleetfrom Sevastopol in 2017.

"The start of negotiations on the removal of Russia's Black Sea fleetfrom Ukrainian territory should be included in the agenda of ourrelations," he said in a press conference. Russia should consider the20-year lease allowing its fleet to be based in the port of Sevastopol"a unique gesture of goodwill by the Ukrainian nation," Yushchenko saidaccording to ITAR-TASS on July 24. "I am convinced we must do everythingpossible beforehand. And beforehand is not to say prematurely."Yushchenko's timing could be seen as a warning to Moscow that talksshould not be influenced by public pressure from such proponents ofbreaking Crimea away from Ukraine as Zatulin and Moscow mayor YuriyLuzhkov, and that their agitation will not be tolerated.

Earlier, on July 2, 2008, Moscow's politically well connected mayor,Yuriy Luzhkov, announced that the municipality would send $34 millionfrom its own budget to the Crimea in order to "promote the teaching ofthe Russian language" and to support the "Diaspora abroad" in 2009-2011,Kommersant online reported. Earlier, Luzhkov urged the Russian StateDuma not to prolong the Russian-Ukrainian treaty of peace andcooperation which is due to expire at the end of 2008.


Luzhkov, who is currently banned from entering Ukraine as a result ofhis unceasing efforts to reclaim the peninsula for Russia from Ukraine,offered a breakdown of how this money would be spent.

The mayor's office told Kommersant that 180 million rubles ($7.65million) will go toward "direct support for the united Russian Diasporaabroad," 65.2 million rubles ($2.76 million) will be allocated for"information cooperation" with this Diaspora and 335.5 million rubles ($14.2 million) is slated to support the Russian language, culture andeducation.

Where the other $11 million will go was not revealed.


The vague descriptions of how this money would be spent lends itself tovarious interpretations; direct support for Russians abroad could wellmean financing various separatist groups who could arguably engage interrorist acts against Ukrainian authorities in the Crimea. Luzhkov's"cultural" money could also well be a means of channeling funds forRussian covert intelligence operations in the region.

When the Ukrainian Security Service, the SBU, announced in June thatLuzhkov would be denied entrance to Ukraine, the announcementunderscored that the mayor of Moscow was suspected of money launderingvia the Crimea. No proof of this has yet been offered and Luzhkov hasnot made any denials.

The possibility that such money could be used to fund a sub-rosaoperation is not as remote as it might seem. On July 1, 2008 the websiteof the SBU ( reported that it had arrestedtwo individuals in the Crimea, members of the unregistered "NationalFront - Sevastopol-Crimea-Russia" group, and charged them with agitationfor dismembering the "territorial integrity of Ukraine."

The "National Front" was created in August 2005 and includes 12pro-Russian public associations in the Crimea. Last year its activistsdeclared the beginning of a campaign "Ukraine without the Crimea." Theystated that the objective of the campaign was to maintain the term"Crimean autonomy" in the wording of the Ukrainian constitution, EkhoMoskvy radio reported on July 1, 2008.

But their actions are alleged to be far more radical and the source oftheir funding remains a mystery. Did it initially come from earliergrants provided by the Moscow city budget or were other, less visible,donors involved?

The SBU press release noted that recently (the dates were not specified)five spies working under diplomatic cover were declared persona nongrata and asked to leave Ukraine. The SBU refused to name whichcountries the spies were from.

More ominously, the SBU stated that 38 Ukrainian citizens were warnedthat they were targets of recruitment by foreign intelligenceservices-by which countries services the SBU did not specify. TheRussian Foreign Intelligence Service, the SVR, the CIA and the Turkishnational intelligence service, the MIT, all come to mind, however theSVR appears to be the most likely culprit.

Moreover, the Crimean branch of the Communist Party of Ukraine (CPU)appears to be extremely well funded. The CPU has been in the forefrontof organizing anti-NATO demonstrations in the Crimea

Where is the money coming from to fund the anti-Ukrainian campaign inthe Crimea?

Luzhkov's charitable donations are not a recent development. In2006-2008 Moscow donated 432 million rubles ($18.3 million) towardsimilar projects in the Crimea, Kommersant wrote on July 1, quoting aspokesman for Luzhkov.

Earlier, in the 1990s, the pro-Russian movement in the Crimea was headedby the so-called Republican Movement of the Crimea, which was regardedby the SBU at the time as nothing more than a front for organized crimeon the peninsula. The Republican Movement eventually disappeared and wasreplaced by more legitimate groups, but their legitimacy-and theirfunding-is now under suspicion and Yuriy Luzhkov, or his wife, might oneday be asked to account for this.

Are these charitable donations being run by Luzhkov alone? Is the mayorof Moscow a rogue elephant, privatizing Russian foreign policy? Is thenew Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, aware of his activities and doeshe condone them as part of his announced intention to see that the ruleof law is supreme in Russia?

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