STORY: Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Sunday fired the head of the country’s powerful domestic security agency, the SBU, and the top state prosecutor.
That’s because dozens of officials in their agencies were found to be collaborating with Russia in its invasion of Ukraine.
Zelenskiy said SBU chief Ivan Bakanov, a childhood friend, and Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova, who’s been leading war crime cases against Russia, had to take responsibility for the 650-plus cases of treason and collaboration opened against their staff.
“Such an array of crimes against the foundations of the state’s national security and the connections detected between the employees of Ukraine’s security forces and Russian special services pose very serious questions to the relevant leaders. Each of these questions will receive a proper answer.”
The firings are the biggest political sackings since the invasion began.
Zelenskiy said more than 60 officials from the pair’s departments were now working against Ukraine in Russian-occupied territories, and noted the problem had touched other departments as well.
The sheer number of treason cases lays bare the huge challenge of Russian infiltration faced by Ukraine since Moscow began what it calls its “special military operation” on February 24.
In particular, questions have loomed over how the southern port region of Kherson fell so quickly to Russia in early March.
That was in sharp contrast to the fierce resistance around Kyiv that forced Russia eventually to back off and instead focus on capturing Donbas in the east.
Russian troops have now captured swathes of Ukraine's south and east, in an invasion that has killed thousands, displaced millions and destroyed entire cities.