Zelensky Fires Top Officials After Treason Investigations

People within their departments are suspected, Ukraine president says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 18, 2022 1:10 AM CDT
Zelensky Fires Top Officials After Treason Investigations
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks during a joint press conference with Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte following their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, July 11, 2022.   (AP Photo/Andrew Kravchenko)

As Russian troops pressed their offensive in Ukraine's east, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky fired his state security chief and prosecutor general on Sunday, citing more than 651 criminal proceedings into treason and collaboration by people within their departments and other law enforcement agencies. “In particular, more than 60 employees of the prosecutor’s office and the SBU (state security service) have remained in the occupied territory and work against our state,” Zelensky said. “Such an array of crimes against the foundations of the state’s national security, and the links recorded between Ukrainian security forces and Russian special services raise very serious questions about their respective leaders,’’ he said in his nightly video address to the nation, per the AP.

Zelensky dismissed Ivan Bakanov, a childhood friend and former business partner whom he had appointed to head the SBU. Bakanov had come under growing criticism over security breaches since the war began; Politico last month cited several unidentified Ukrainian and Western sources saying Zelensky was looking to replace him. He also dismissed Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova, and replaced her with her deputy Oleksiy Symonenko. Venediktova has helped lead war crime investigations. The former head of the Main Directorate of the Security Service in Crimea was also detained on suspicion of treason, CNN reports. Meanwhile, Russian missiles hit industrial facilities earlier Sunday at Mykolaiv, a key shipbuilding center in southern Ukraine. (A 4-year-old girl was recently killed by a Russian missile strike.)

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