Rector of UCU: “It is Unfortunate that the Government does not trust its people”


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"In the country there is an atmosphere which induces the security agency to act in an undemocratic manner," reported the rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv Father Borys Gudziak, Ph.D., in an interview to the news agency UNIAN. In the opinion of the rector, "it scares the population, returns the feelings of Soviet times."

Commenting on the reaction of the official structures on publishing the Memorandum Regarding the Visit to UCU of a Representative of the SBU, the rector noted that the authority expressed mutually exclusive positions: "That which Ms. Herman calls disgraceful and impermissible, the spokesperson of the SBU considers normal, routine practice. It is mutually exclusive positions of the official authority structures. Which position is official?" asks the rector.

Another important moment which the rector of UCU noted is this that responsibility is placed on local structures: "This is not the responsibility and guilt of that young worker who came to me," Fr. Borys Gudziak noted and reported about the intention of the rectorate of UCU to defend the SBU visitor in case he is blamed for that which ensued: "If he is reprimanded because of the wide reaction, we will campaign for the defense of this young employee of the SBU for he followed an order ‘from above.'"

Explaining why he refused to read the contents of the letter from the SBU, the father reported that in signing such letter he may bring himself under moral, and maybe even legal, obligation. "Under certain circumstances such a letter could be used in moral buying, and even in blackmail," the rector of UCU noted.

Predicting the consequences of signing, the father used Poland as an example where during the last few last years clerics were greatly criticized for signing documents about cooperating with state bodies. "Four years ago Stanislaw Wielgus, a respected professor of the Catholic university in Lublin, who was the rector for three terms, was appointed archbishop of Warsaw. He at the time signed some document on the request of the security service. The press knew about it. In the end he had to resign. It was big scandal on the international level," explained Gudziak.

The rector reported that he did not cast aside the possibility that the special services are collecting information in higher educational institutions: "I think that there is a collection of information. Such practice was common in the Soviet Union. It looks likes today there are secret employees of the special services in the universities. But I personally try not to pay too much attention to such things. Firstly, we have nothing to hide. Secondly, it's not healthy to think and guess who is an agent of the special services. Doing so can create an atmosphere of paranoia."

The rector believes that the UCU affair "testifies about the fear of the authority. Such behavior is the behavior of people who are afraid of their own people. It is unfortunate that the government does not trust its people."

"We must talk about this. Fight with openness. That is why I wrote this memorandum," responded Fr. Borys Gudziak to the question of UNIAN on how to resist espionage.

It should be noted that the position of Valerii Khoroshkovskyi, the head of the SBU, regarding the situation which unfolded around UCU was published in an interview he had with Kommersant. In the opinion of the official, the employee of the SBU required the rector to sign the letter from the security service because he "decided that it would confirm that he fulfilled his work well and that is why I do not see any problems here: the rector did not want to sign it, and that is his right." At the same time, in the opinion of the head of the SBU, the UCU affair reminds him of "a technology": "Presently I see a few technological lines that are being realized by opponents of stabilizing processes taking place in the state, in particular, a line with the conditional name of ‘restriction of freedom of speech' connecting the SBU to the restriction of individual freedom... This doesn't sound right. Once again I want to stress that we will be very tolerant and open, but we have our own duties and we will fulfill them rigidly," Khoroshkovskyi assured.