8 Mar 2019 16:42

Ukrainian Interior Ministry rejects SBU's accusation of disrupting operation near Zelensky's office in central Kyiv

KYIV. March 8 (Interfax) - The Ukrainian Interior Ministry has said it was not aware of an operation carried out by Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) near an office of presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelensky on March 4.

"Unfortunately, the Interior Ministry's staff doesn't include wizards, shamans, and psychics who would have informed police officers in advance that the SBU was due to take secret investigative and search measures, including the installment of special-purpose audio and video surveillance technical equipment, at 26, Biloruska Street on March 4," the ministry said in a statement published on its website on Thursday.

The ministry said it was "greatly surprised to learn from the SBU's official statement that the special service had allegedly informed the Interior Ministry in advance about its secret operation."

Only staff members with certain access status have access to such information, it said.

The ministry also confirmed that neither it nor Ukraine's National Policy intervenes in the SBU's work in any way.

The ministry, however, advised the SBU to check the quality of its employees' work to install special-purpose audio and video surveillance equipment to avert situations in the future where such operations would be watched by ordinary security guards or other people right out of windows of a nearby building.

The Kyiv police said on March 4 that they were looking into information about the installment of the unknown technical equipment near an office of Ukrainian presidential candidate Zelensky on Biloruska Street in Kyiv.

The SBU, for its part, said that it had carried out a technical operation at 26, Biloruska Street in Kyiv, but this operation had nothing to do with presidential candidates or their inner circle, because no offices owned by any presidential candidates are registered at this address.

The SBU said on March 7 that "an operation to document criminal activities in the interests of Russian special services and expose technical operations was disrupted," adding that the State Bureau of Investigation had opened a criminal case.

"The administration of the Interior Ministry deliberately published videos and photos showing special-purpose equipment and exposed forms and methods of SBU officers' work, thus intentionally prompting a leak of restricted access information to the detriment of the state's national interests," it said.

"The Interior Ministry knew in advance that on March 4 officers of this special service were due to conduct a technical operation on the basis of the Kyiv Court of Appeal's ruling and with the consent of the Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine in relation to a person suspected of high treason (Article 111 of Ukraine's Criminal Code," the SBU said.