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Thursday, February 29, 2024

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Ukraine’s Zelensky Suspends Security Chief And Top Prosecutor

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The head of Ukraine’s spy agency (SBU) and the prosecutor general have been suspended by President Zelensky citing multiple cases of treason in the two powerful organisations.

Zelensky said more than 60 former Ukrainian employees were now working against Ukraine in Russian-occupied areas.

The suspended bureaucrats – Ivan Bakanov and Iryna Venediktova have not made any comment or released a statement.

In a video address late on Sunday, Zelensky said: “Such an array of crimes against the foundations of the national security of the state… pose very serious questions to the relevant heads (of the two organisations).”

Andriy Smirnov, a top advisor of Zelensky, stated that officials have not been fired, but merely removed pending an investigation. It was earlier thought that the two officials were fired.

“In order to prevent the potential influence of these two officials on criminal proceedings, which are being investigated in relation to SBU employees who are suspected of cooperation with the aggressor country, and the same applies to the prosecutor’s office, the president made appropriate decisions,” Mr Smirnov said.

Following the high-profile arrest of a former SBU regional head in Crimea, which annexed by Russia in 2014, Ivan Bakanov, a childhood friend of Zelensky was removed pending investigation. The SBU regional head – Oleh Kulinych is suspected of treason.

“Everyone who together with him was part of a criminal group that worked in the interests of the Russian Federation will also be held accountable,” Mr Zelensky said. “It is about the transfer of secret information to the enemy and other facts of co-operation with the Russian special services.”

Kherson-based senior intelligence officials have been charged and Zelensky has promised that action will be taken against other SBU officials.

For long, it has been suspected that Russians have infiltrated Ukrainian security services, and, in his speech, Mr Zelensky sought to show the impact of repeated security breaches.

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