Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky suspended Ivan Bakanov, head of Ukraine’s spy agency (SBU), and Iryna Venediktova, the general prosecutor, citing hundreds of cases of treason in the organisation and collaboration by people within their departments as well as other government agencies on Sunday.
In a video address on Sunday, Zelensky said that there were over 60 employees within the state security organisation (SBU) and the general prosecutor’s office who have remained in the Russian occupied territories and worked against their state. He further added that 651 criminal proceedings and cases have been initiated against several law enforcement officials for treason and collaboration.
The suspension of Ivan Bakanov, President Zelensky’s childhood friend, comes after the high profile arrest of a former SBU regional head in Crimea in 2014. Iryna Venediktova has been succeeded by her deputy – Oleksiy Symoneko who has been investigating the war crimes committed by Russia since the start of its invasion.
The suspension of the two high ranking officials comes amidst an increased offense by Russian armed forces in Ukraine over the last few weeks. Earlier on Sunday, Russian missiles hit the industrial facilities in the city of Mykoliav – a key shipbuilding centre in Southern Ukraine.