Zelensky fires intelligence chief and prosecutor general on grounds of treason
Ivan Bakanov, head of the Ukrainian Security Service, speaks to the media in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, July 16, 2019 | AP

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has sacked his country’s prosecutor general and the head of the intelligence services amid allegations of collusion with Russia.

He issued executive orders late on Sunday firing SBU chief Ivan Bakanov and prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova, citing more than 650 cases of high treason.

Mr. Zelensky claimed that there was evidence that more than 60 officials had been spying for Moscow in Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine.

“As of today, some 651 criminal cases have been registered of high treason and collaboration activities of employees of the prosecutor’s office, pre-trial investigation bodies, and other law enforcement agencies,” he said.

“Such an array of crimes against the foundations of the national security of the state … pose very serious questions to the relevant leaders,” Mr. Zelensky said, adding that “each of these questions will receive a proper answer.”

The SBU’s former head responsible for Crimea at the beginning of the conflict in February has also been fired.

“Sufficient evidence has been collected to report this person on suspicion of treason. All his criminal activities are documented,” Mr. Zelensky said.

Oleksiy Symonenko was named as the new prosecutor general in a separate executive order but Mr. Bakanov’s replacement has not yet been named.

The sackings mark one of the most significant political developments since the Russian invasion began on February 24.

Peace negotiator Denis Kireev was shot dead in March, with the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense branding him a spy just days after he had been sitting around the negotiating table.

Last month human rights chief Lyudmila Denisova was sensationally fired by the Ukrainian parliament after she admitted fabricating reports of Russian war crimes and rapes to persuade Western countries to send more arms and aid.


Steve Sweeney
Steve Sweeney

Steve Sweeney writes for Morning Star, the socialist daily newspaper published in Great Britain. He is also a People's Assembly National Committee member, patron of the Peace in Kurdistan campaign, and a proud trade unionist. Steve Sweeney escribe para Morning Star, el diario socialista publicado en Gran Bretaña. También es miembro del Comité Nacional de la Asamblea Popular, patrocinador de la campaña Paz en Kurdistán y un orgulloso sindicalista.