Volodymyr Zelenskiy fired the head of Ukraine’s powerful internal security agency, the SBU, and the state prosecutor general, citing dozens of collusions by officials in their agencies with Russia.
On Sunday, SBU chief Ivan Bakanov, a childhood friend of Zelenskiy’s, and Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova, who played a key role in investigating Russian war crimes, were abruptly fired, according to executive orders on the president’s website.
In a Telegram post, Zelensky said he fired the top officials because it had come to light that several members of their agencies had cooperated with Russia, which he said touched other agencies.
He said that 651 cases of treason and collaboration had been opened against prosecutors and law enforcement officials, and that more than 60 officials from Baganov and Venediktova’s agencies were now being prosecuted. Ukraine In the Russian occupied territories.
The spate of treason cases underscores the biggest challenge to Russian intrusion facing Ukraine, which Moscow sees as a fight for survival.
“Such a series of crimes against the foundation of the state’s national security … poses very serious questions for the leaders involved,” Zelensky said. “Each of these questions will have the right answer.”
Russian troops have killed thousands, displaced millions and destroyed cities during their invasion of southern and eastern Ukraine.
It is not clear how Kherson, a southern, Russian-occupied enclave, fell so quickly in contrast to fierce opposition around Kyiv that prompted Russia to withdraw to focus on capturing the industrial Donbass heartland in the east.
Zelenskiy noted the recent arrest on suspicion of treason of the former head of the SBU, which oversees the region of Crimea, a peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014.
Zelensky said he fired a top security official at the start of the invasion, a decision he said had now been shown to be justified. “Enough evidence has been gathered to report this person on suspicion of sedition. “All his criminal activities are documented,” he said.
Baganov was appointed head of the SBU in 2019, and Zelenskiy, a former comedian, is one of a series of new faces who rose to prominence after winning the election earlier that year.
In a separate executive order that appointed Zelenskiy Oleksiy Symonenko as the new attorney general, it was published on the president’s website.
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