Zelensky explains why he fired Ukraine’s top security officials
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has fired Prosecutor General Irina Venediktova and the head of the country’s top security agency, Ivan Bakanov, citing allegedly rampant “treason” in both services.
In Sunday’s dramatic announcement, he claimed that a large numbers of staffers at Kiev’s successor to the KGB, the SBU —which Bakanov headed since 2019 — were working with Russia.
“As of today, some 651 criminal cases have been registered on high treason and collaboration activities of employees of the prosecutor’s office, pre-trial investigation bodies, and other law enforcement agencies,” Zelensky stated, announcing the decision.
Amid the ongoing conflict with Russia, “more than 60 employees of the law enforcement agencies and the SBU” remained in the “occupied territory” and are now working against Ukraine, Zelensky claimed. That vast “array of crimes,” as well as contacts between “employees of law enforcement agencies of Ukraine and Russia,” are posing “serious questions” to the heads of the respective bodies, he went on, warning that “every such question will get an appropriate answer.”
Bakanov, who assumed the spy-chief post shortly after Zelensky’s presidential victory in 2019, was removed under Article 47 of the Disciplinary Statute of the Ukrainian military. The article refers specifically to a serious failure in official duties “which caused loss of life or other grave consequences or create a threat of such consequences.”
While Bakanov’s successor has not been named yet, Venediktova, who had served as prosecutor general since March 2020, has been replaced by Oleksiy Symonenko.