ISSN 2330-717X

Ukrainian Newspaper Identifies Abusisi Kidnap Witness, Charges Deputy Intelligence Chief With Complicity – OpEd


The Ukrainian independent newspaper, Pravda published a major new story (Google Translate version) on the Abusisi kidnapping, in which it identified a new witness to the event who was was sleeping in the bunk just under the victim when he was snatched.

The witness, Andrej Makarenko, saw two heavy-set men who looked like beat-cops, and accosted Abusisi taking him away.

The abductee was going to follow them in bare feet, but knowing they planned to remove him from the train, they told him to put on his shoes.  Later, a third individual returned to the car and began rifling through Aubisi’s belongings.  Makarenko, thinking he might be a thief, demanded to see his ID.  Makarenko says that he got a good look both at the man and his ID and says that he was an officer of the Ukrainian SBU (successor to the KGB), or equivalent of the FBI:

“He wore a short leather flight-jacket.  He was a thin man with sunken cheeks. Hair color light brown, maybe a little red…about 40 years old. If I was shown a photo, I might be able to recognize him.

…I asked him to show me his ID. He took a card and showed it to me for five to seven seconds.  The only thing I remembered was that it was an SBU ID. I even flashed the thought that if he was with the Security Service, then the whole matter was better left alone.

There it stated he was with SBU. I do not remember his job title. I didn’t record and don’t remember the name.  It’s enough for me and what I saw that it was the SBU.”

A representative of the SBU would only comment that the investigation of the incident was a police matter.

A separate Pravda Ukraine article quotes a former SBU officer saying it would very well be possible for the Mossad to pay a lower-ranking SBU official at the oblast (county) level to participate in the abduction.  This individual would have only thought about the money to be earned and not understood the national implications involved in the act.

Makarenko also saw the train conductor who witnessed the abduction and spoke freely about it at first, only to recant what he’d first said upon likely being pressured by authorities.  This railway officer, according to Pravda, has gone on leave for a month and is no longer at his home.

The article also includes accusations supported by claims of a Ukrainian MP, Anatoly Gritsenko, to the BBC Ukraine service, that the SBU orchestrated the abduction on behalf of the Israeli Mossad:

“According to what I know unofficially, but that has yet to be confirmed, counter-intelligence services of the SBU have been involved in rendering this man to the Israeli side.”

A confidential Ukrainian source involved in politics told an Abusisi family member that the deputy head of the intelligence agency, Vladimir Rokitsky, personally organized the abduction and rendition.  This publication of his name here is the first time a specific Ukrainian official has been implicated in this incident.  If any readers can identify a photo of him I’d like to honor him here accordingly.

The Pravda story also is the first MSM mention of the Jordanian connection to this story, which I reported a few weeks ago.  Jordanian intelligence detained Abusisi during an airport layover and refused to allow him to board his flight to the Ukraine for seven days.  During this time, I maintain Israel was organizing the subsequent abduction of Abusisi that would take place on the train outside Poltava.  Or else it was bargaining with the Jordanians in the hope that they would transfer him directly to Israel.

The Jordanian newspaper Assabil (Arabic) queried a Jordanian government spokesperson, who asked the paper not to report it prematurely and to wait for an official government response.  Unsurprisingly, one was not forthcoming.

The Pravda article closes with an ironic quotation from the mission statement of the SBU:

The statement lists among the SBU’s responsibilities “counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism activities, as well as countering other activities of special services of foreign states.”

I didn’t notice among its responsibilities serving the interests of foreign intelligence agencies within Ukraine’s borders.  If this article isn’t a smoking gun, I don’t know what is.

There will be a demonstration today outside the Ukrainian foreign ministry in which Abusisi’s wife, Veronika will participate.

Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein is an author, journalist and blogger, with articles appearing in Haaretz, the Jewish Forward, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Al Jazeera English, and Alternet. His work has also been in the Seattle Times, American Conservative Magazine, Beliefnet and Tikkun Magazine, where he is on the advisory board. Check out Silverstein's blog at Tikun Olam, one of the earliest liberal Jewish blogs, which he has maintained since February, 2003.

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