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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yushchenko Appoints Security Service Chief

APYushchenko greeting supporters on a trip Monday to his native Sumy region.
KIEV -- President Viktor Yushchenko on Tuesday told the discredited State Security Service, implicated in widespread bribery and alleged involvement in his near deadly poisoning, that it should get out of politics and commerce and concentrate on fighting corruption and winning the people's trust.

Speaking at a ceremony to introduce Oleksandr Turchynov as the country's new security chief, Yushchenko said the agency should leave politics to politicians.

"With a joint effort from the president and the security service, we will make this country honest," Yushchenko was quoted as saying by Ukraine's Unian news agency.

The appointment of Turchynov -- a civilian with no law enforcement experience and an ally of new Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko -- immediately sparked speculation that he was sent in to dismantle the agency.

The security service had been long considered one of Ukraine's most corrupt agencies, with officers accused of working for the business elite and allegedly involved in illegal weapons sales.

Yushchenko said that he purposely chose a civilian rather than a career security service officer to head the group. Turchynov, a former economics adviser, was a lawmaker in Tymoshenko's parliamentary bloc.

Also Tuesday, Yushchenko appointed his key ally and lawmaker Petro Poroshenko as chief of the Defense and Security Council, said Yushchenko spokeswoman Iryna Gerashchenko. Poroshenko, 39, a confectionary tycoon, was a key financier of the Orange Revolution.

Newly appointed Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk said Tuesday that Ukraine should use its strategic position between the expanding European Union and a resurgent Russia to become a regional leader.

Ukraine's foreign policy should be "not pro-Western, not pro-Eastern, only pro-Ukrainian."

He said that the Foreign Ministry's main task will be to pursue good neighborly relations, first of all with Russia, but also with its European Union neighbors.