Ukraine’s president fires top officials as hundreds investigated ‘cooperation’ with Russia

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has fired two key figures in his government, questioned their leadership qualities and accused many of their subordinates of treason and collaboration with Russia.

“Today I made the decision to remove the Attorney General from office and fire the head of Ukraine’s security service,” Zelensky said in his overnight video address.

The two dismissed officials are Attorney General Iryna Venediktova and head of the State Security Service (SBU), Ivan Bakanov, a longtime associate of the president.

Ukrainian soldiers fire at Russian positions with a CAESAR self-propelled howitzer
Ukrainian soldiers fire at Russian positions with a CAESAR self-propelled howitzer (Reuters)

Zelensky said many officials within both departments were suspected of treason.

“As of today, 651 criminal proceedings have been registered related to treason and collaboration activities by prosecutors, pre-trial and other law enforcement officials,” he said.

“Notably, more than 60 employees of the Ukrainian public prosecutor’s office and security service remained in the occupied territory, working against our state.”

Zelensky explained his decision to remove Venediktova and Bakanov, saying that “a series of crimes” had been discovered between the employees of Ukraine’s security forces and Russia’s special services.

Crimes of treason, he said, threatened Ukraine’s national security

The former head of the chief directorate of the Crimean security service has also been detained on suspicion of treason, Zelensky said.

“Anyone who, along with him, was part of a criminal group that worked in the interests of the Russian Federation will also be held accountable.

“It involves the transfer of classified information to the enemy and other facts of cooperation with the Russian special services.”

Ukrainian soldiers ride a military vehicle as they tow an M777 howitzer near the frontline, in the Donbas region.
Ukrainian soldiers ride a military vehicle as they tow an M777 howitzer near the frontline, in the Donbas region. (Gleb Garanich / Reuters)
Senior officials in South Ukraine’s SBU are blamed for ease with which Russian troops conquer large parts of the south within a week of the invasion.

Zelensky indicated that further action would be taken.

“The specific actions and possible inaction of each official in the security sector and with law enforcement agencies will be evaluated,” he said.

“The associated inspection of law enforcement agencies has already produced initial results and will continue.”

Zelensky also said the prime minister would be ordered to step up the search for a new head of the National Anticorruption Bureau.

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