Zelenskyy deepens purge of Ukrainian secret services
Lviv, Ukraine, Jul 19 (EFE).- Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has widened his purge of the country’s secret services (SBU) in a bid to rid the agency of Russian infiltration.
Ukraine’s parliament on Tuesday ratified the sacking of SBU leader Ivan Bakanov as well as the prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova.
The president on Tuesday also fired the deputy head of the SBU, Volodymyr Gorbenko, as well as several regional SBU leaders.
Zelenskyy said the decision to remove Bakanov and Venediktova came after hundreds of alleged cases of treason and collaboration with Russia were detected in both departments.
“As of today, 651 criminal proceedings have been registered regarding high treason and collaborative activities of employees of prosecutor’s offices, pretrial inquiry bodies, and other law enforcement agencies,” Zelenskyy said, according to Ukrainian news outlet Ukrinform.
“In 198 criminal proceedings, charges were pressed against the relevant individuals.”
More than 60 members of the prosecutor general’s office and the SBU stayed in Ukrainian territory now occupied by Russia and were working against Ukraine, he added.
Bakanov is a childhood friend of Zelenskyy who oversaw his successful 2019 presidential campaign, while Venediktova became a member of his team soon after he came to power.
Zelenskyy has named interim replacements for the pair.
While the president brought in sweeping changes to Ukraine’s security services, hostilities continued in the country’s south and east.
Ukrainian forces on Tuesday used United States-supplied HIMARS missile systems to strike a bridge in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine, most of which is under Russian occupation, pro-Moscow separatist forces told Russia’s RIA Novosti, claiming that the bridge withstood the attack.
Twelve people were killed in a separate attack by Ukraine on Monday, Russian media reported.
Russian forces in turn struck Kramatorsk and Sloviansk, in Ukraine’s Donbass region, as well as Odesa on the Black Sea coast.EFE