President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky has dismissed two significant government officials questioning their leadership qualities and accusing many of their subordinates of treason and collaboration with Russia.
The two government officials dismissed are Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova and State Security Service (SBU) head Ivan Bakanov, who is a long-time associate of President Zelensky.
In his nightly video address, Zelensky said “Today I made a decision to remove the Prosecutor General from office and to dismiss the Head of the Security Service of Ukraine.”
The President further stated that many officials within both departments were suspected of treason.
Justifying his decision to remove Venediktova and Bakanov, Zelensky said: “Such an array of crimes against the foundations of the national security of the state and the connections detected between the employees of the security forces of Ukraine and the special services of Russia pose very serious questions to the relevant leadership. Each of these questions will receive a proper answer.”
He added that the former head of the Main Directorate of the Security Service in Crimea has also been detained on suspicion of treason.
“Everyone who together with him was part of a criminal group that worked in the interests of the Russian Federation will also be held accountable,” Zelensky said. “It is about the transfer of secret information to the enemy and other facts of cooperation with the Russian special services.”
“As of today, 651 criminal proceedings have been registered regarding treason and collaboration activities of employees of prosecutor’s offices, pretrial investigation bodies, and other law enforcement agencies,” he said.
Zelensky revealed that: “In particular, more than 60 employees of the prosecutor’s office and the Security Service of Ukraine remained in the occupied territory and are working against our state.”
Russia continues to intensify in Ukraine
Ukrainian military denied Russian advances in Donetsk over the weekend, as the bloody battle for control in the eastern Donbas region grinds on.
Through Saturday and Sunday, at least eight settlements in the eastern part of Donetsk came under fire.
Most of the settlements straddle a pocket of territory in the highway that leads west from Luhansk region towards the industrial cities of Donetsk, according to the Ukrainian military.
Senior officials in the State Security Service in southern Ukraine have been blamed for the ease with which Russian forces were able to capture large areas of the south within a week of the invasion.
Zelensky indicated there would be further action.
“The specific actions and any inaction of each official in the security sector and in law enforcement agencies will be evaluated,” he said. “The corresponding inspection of law enforcement agencies has already yielded the first results and will be continued.”
“The Prime Minister would be tasked with intensifying the search for a new head of the National Anticorruption Bureau,” Zelensky added.