Monday, January 17, 2005

A Certain Pattern

The New York Times takes some steps towards recovering from its outbreak of Kilroy-worship with an excellent and intriguing report on the role of the Ukrainian secret services in the revolution. As so often before, the key moment came when "they" decided it was time to pull the plug. Now, back at the time, on Monday, the 29th of November, I blogged on the continuity between revolutions that could be seen in the Ukraine. I characterised it as desertion from the regime, rather than assault on it. That's also rather what I said on the 24th, here. Back in the 1989 revolutions, of course, it later turned out that the various Central European secret services played a curious role - in Czechoslovakia, a "student" who was beaten up by the police turned out to be a spook who had been put up in order to provoke unrest that would put pressure on the Husak government to reform. What they failed to realise was that they were pushing at an open door. Some similar things happened in East Germany. Only in Romania did they stick with the regime, going so far as to fight it out with the army. In the Ukraine, it seems the SBU decided on the 24th to distance itself from the government after getting hold of information on the election-rigging. On the evening of the 28th, when the possibility of a crackdown was at its height, the SBU was deployed in Kiev in a configuration that might have been either designed to crush the opposition or to resist the OMON:
"Several hundred intelligence officers were already among the protesters, S.B.U officials say. Some were pretending to be demonstrators themselves. Concealed surveillance teams were videotaping the crowd. Snipers peered down from roofs. Counterterrorism teams huddled in nearby apartments and unmarked trucks. Groups in vehicles roamed the roads to Kiev, trying to determine the direction of the troops' advance.

Among the protesters' tents, an S.B.U. colonel who had spent the week as a liaison to the demonstration organizers alerted the organizers that troops were on their way.

His next mission was to meet the troops as they drew near, he said, to warn their officers that a crackdown without written orders was illegal. He said he also planned to warn them that the S.B.U. had surveillance units watching Kiev, and all actions would be videotaped for use as evidence later."
It would seem the slow rot won in the end.

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