Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has suspended two key members of his government.
Accuses many of their subordinates of treason and collusion with Russia.
Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova and State Security Service head Ivan Bakanov under investigation.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has suspended two key members of his government, questioning their leadership abilities and accusing many of their subordinates of treason and collusion with Russia.
Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova and State Security Service (SBU) head Ivan Bakanov, a long-time associate of the President, are now under investigation and have been temporarily replaced.
“For a long enough time, we have been waiting for more concrete and sufficiently radical results from the leaders of these two departments, to clean these two departments of collaborators and state traitors,” the deputy dead of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Andrii Smyrnov, told Ukrainian television on Monday.
“However, in the sixth month of the war, we continue to find … packs of these people, in each of these departments,” Smyrnov said.
On Sunday, Zelensky appeared to imply that the pair had been fired in his nightly video address. “Today I decided to remove the Prosecutor General from office and dismiss the Head of Ukraine’s Security Service,” Zelensky said, adding that many officials in both departments were suspected of treason.
However, Smyrnov stated on Monday that the pair had been suspended in order to avoid interfering with the investigations. Zelensky will decide whether or not to submit a motion to dismiss them to Ukraine’s parliament, depending on the results of the probe.
“As of today, 651 criminal proceedings have been registered regarding treason and collaboration activities of employees of prosecutor’s offices, pretrial investigation bodies, and other law enforcement agencies,” Zelensky told Ukrainians.
“In particular, more than 60 employees of the prosecutor’s office and the Security Service of Ukraine remained in the occupied territory and are working against our state.
“Such an array of crimes against the foundations of the national security of the state and the connections detected between the employees of the security forces of Ukraine and the special services of Russia pose very serious questions to the relevant leadership. Each of these questions will receive a proper answer,” he said.
On Monday, Zelensky named two interim replacements for the suspended pair: Vasyl Maliuk will lead the SBU, and Oleksii Symonenko, Ukraine’s deputy prosecutor general, will lead the Prosecutor’s Office.
According to Zelensky’s Sunday address, the former head of the Main Directorate of the Security Service in Crimea has also been detained on suspicion 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. It is about the transfer of secret information to the enemy and other facts of cooperation with the Russian special services,” he said.
Senior officials in southern Ukraine’s SBU have been blamed for Russian forces’ ease in capturing large areas of the south within a week of the invasion. Zelensky also stated that Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal would be tasked with expediting the search for a new National Anticorruption Bureau director.
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