Russian state television late on Sunday revived an allegation that Ukraine hosted a secret CIA prison for terrorist suspects allegedly to prove its loyalty to the United States. Ukrainian officials denied the report.
An investigative reporter for Rossiya television said that the alleged prison was located in a former nuclear weapons storage base in a military garrison in the Kiev region, adding that prisoners were probably transferred to Ukraine from Poland and Romania.
“In the opinion of many foreign experts, Ukraine served as a buffer,” reporter Arkady Mamontov said. “When information about the location of secret prisons on the territory of East European states, first of all Poland, came out and the scandal started, they remembered the Ukrainian variant.”
The Russian state television allegations come just two weeks before Ukraine’s parliamentary elections, in which one of the top issues will be whether Kiev’s top foreign policy priority should be Russia or the West. President Viktor Yushchenko aspires for Ukraine to join NATO. The party that is currently ahead in the polls, led by former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, favors closer ties with Moscow. Ukrainian officials have vehemently denied the allegation of a secret prison, which were first printed in a Swiss newspaper in January.
“It is nonsense,” Ukrainian State Security agency spokeswoman Maryna Ostapenko said on Monday. “We have already said more than once that these allegations don’t correspond to reality.”
She said that when the allegation first emerged, “we checked into it.” Defence Ministry spokesman Andriy Lysenko said only Ukraine’s president or defence minister could decide to establish such a facility, “and no such decision has been made”.
Mamontov did not divulge his sources for the Ukraine prison report, saying only that he got most of his information “practically from a firsthand source”. He also spoke with an employee of a company that performed a renovation at the base and with soldiers who described underground storehouses. AP