Ukraine’s security head, top prosecutor sacked in shakeup
Published: 11:45 AM, 18 July 2022 Updated: 10:03 PM, 18 July 2022
Ukraine’s security SBU chief Ivan Bakanov (left) and top prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova (right); File Photo
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday sacked his chief prosecutor and the head of the country’s security agency, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), in the largest government shakeup since the start of Russia’s invasion nearly five months ago.
Zelensky said “he was firing Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova and security chief Ivan Bakanov” amid a high number of cases of suspected treason by Ukrainian law enforcement officials.
“Today, I made the decision of relieving of their duties the prosecutor general and the head of Ukraine’s security service,” Zelensky said in his daily address to the nation.
Zelensky said over 650 cases of suspected treason and aiding and abetting Russia by Ukrainian security officials are currently being investigated, including 60 cases of officials who have remained in territories occupied by Russia and are working against Ukraine.
“Such a great number of crimes against the foundations of national security and the connections established between Ukrainian law enforcement officials and Russian special services pose very serious questions to the relevant leaders,” Zelensky said.
“Each such question will be answered.”
Venediktova had led Ukraine’s investigation into alleged atrocities committed by invading Russian forces in the town of Bucha outside Kyiv, which caused international outrage.
Russian troops began attacking Ukraine in the early hours of February 24. Russia became the first country in Europe after World War II to attack Ukraine by land, air and sea. In this three-pronged attack, Russian missiles fell like rain in different cities of Ukraine.
Moscow, however, is calling its invasion of Ukraine a “special military operation”. Besides, although the entire Ukrainian territory was affected at the beginning of the war, the main focus of the Russian military is now on the eastern Donbas region of the country.
Russia is essentially seeking to occupy Ukraine’s eastern industrial region of Donbas. This territory consists of two regions -- Luhansk and Donetsk. Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine in late February after Russia recognized two rebel self-proclaimed states there.
Thousands of people have lost their lives in Ukraine in the five months since the start of the war. Millions of people have lost their homes and become refugees. Besides, the military-civilian infrastructure of Ukraine has also suffered extensive damage due to Russian aggression.