President Volodymyr Zelensky suspended the head of Ukraine’s spy agency (SBU) and the prosecutor general, citing many cases of treason in the two organizations as he stated that more than 60 former employees were now antagonizing Ukraine in Russian-occupied areas.
He also added that a total of 651 collaboration and treason cases had been opened against law enforcement officials.
Addressing Ukarians in a video on Sunday, Mr. 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 organizations. Each of these questions will receive a proper answer”.
Andriy Smirnov, one of Mr. Zelensky’s top advisers, elucidated that the officials have not been fired, as earlier suggested, but suspended pending an investigation.
He said, “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. The same applies to the prosecutor’s office; the president made appropriate decisions.”
The removal of SBU chief Ivan Bakanov, a childhood friend of Mr. Zelensky, follows the arrest of a former SBU regional head in Crimea, Oleh Kulinych, suspected of treason annexed by Russia in 2014.
Russia’s FSB has a history of quashing from within, and the extent to which they succeeded in sabotaging Ukraine’s defenses is shocking. Kherson fell in days, with bridges that should have been blown up left standing. This enhances the fear that many of her officials exposed Ukraine’s defenses to Russians. Senior intelligence officials in Kherson have o been charged, and Zelensky suggested that action would be taken against other SBU officers.
While it is not said that Ivan Bakanov or Iryna Venediktova conned Ukraine, they headed organizations where people did, so they were suspended. This security service infiltration problem is not unique to Ukraine; it is an issue in every country undergoing war. In fact, it was reported that shortly after the war began, FSB officers suspected of working for Ukraine or having sympathy for the country were laid off.
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