Zelenskyy eyes sacking more officials in shakeup

KYIV: As Russia continues to shell his country, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expanded the shakeup of his security services by suspending 28 more officials, a day after he dismissed two senior officials over allegations that their agencies harbored "collaborators and traitors."In his nightly video address on Monday, Zelenskyy said a "personnel audit" of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) was underway, and the dismissal of the 28 officials was being decided."Different levels, different areas of focus. But the reasons are similar: unsatisfactory results of work," he said.On Sunday, he fired SBU chief Ivan Bakanov and Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova, citing hundreds of criminal proceedings into treason and collaboration by people within their departments and other law enforcement agencies."Six months into the war, we continue to uncover loads of these people in each of these agencies," said Andriy Smirnov, deputy head of Ukraine's presidential office.Analysts said the moves were designed to strengthen Zelenskyy's control over the army and security agencies, which have been led by people appointed before Russia's invasion began on February 24."In the conditions of a war, Zelenskyy needs leaders that are capable of tackling several tasks at the same time — to resist Russia's intrigues within the country to create a fifth column, to be in contact and coordination with international experts, to do their actual job effectively," Volodymyr Fesenko, a political analyst with the Penta Center think tank, told The Associated Press (AP).Bakanov — a childhood friend and former business partner of Zelenskyy, who appointed him to head the SBU — had come under growing criticism over security breaches since the war began.Venediktova won international praise for her drive to gather war-crimes evidence against Russian military commanders and officials, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, over the destruction of Ukrainian cities and the killing of civilians.Close contactAsked by reporters in Washington, D.C. about the personnel changes, United States State Department spokesman Ned Price said the two governments were in close contact."The fact is that, in all of our relationships — including this relationship — we invest not in personalities. We invest in institutions and, of course, President Zelenskyy has spoken [on] his rationale for making these personnel shifts," Price said.He said Washington would continue to work with Kyiv on war-crimes investigations and information sharing. Intelligence, he added, is "an important element of the assistance that we are providing to our Ukrainian partners in an effort to help them defend themselves."Zelenskyy appointed the SBU's first deputy head, 39-year-old Vasyl Maliuk, to be acting chief. He is known for his efforts to fight corruption in the security agencies, and his appointment was seen as part of the president's efforts to get rid of pro-Russian staffers in the SBU.Fesenko said discontent with Bakanov and Venediktova had been brewing for a while, and it was possible that Ukraine's Western partners pointed out the underperformance of the SBU and the prosecutor general's office to Zelenskyy.Meanwhile, Russia pressed forward with its missile and shelling attacks, which Ukrainian officials said were designed to intimidate the civilian population and create panic.The commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, however, said his troops had "stabilized the situation" on the front, largely thanks to Western deliveries of technically advanced rocket systems."It is complex, tense, but completely controllable," Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhny wrote on Telegram after a phone call with Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.Ukraine's Emergency Service said at least six people were killed on Monday by Russian shelling targeting the city of Toretsk in the Donetsk region. Toretsk was taken briefly during Moscow's earlier invasion in 2014, but Ukrainian forces took the city back.Donetsk Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said Russian shelling there was incessant, adding that four Russian strikes had been carried out on the city of Kramatorsk."We're seeing that the Russians want to sow fear and panic," Kyrylenko said in televised remarks. "The front line is moving, so civilians must leave the region and evacuate."Nearly 1,000 civilians were evacuated to Ukraine on Monday from Russian-held territories in the northern Kharkiv region, Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said. About a third of the region remains in Russian hands after Moscow's troops overran it in April.

KYIV: As Russia continues to shell his country, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expanded the shakeup of his security services by suspending 28 more officials, a day after he dismissed two senior officials over allegations that their agencies harbored “collaborators and traitors.”

In his nightly video address on Monday, Zelenskyy said a “personnel audit” of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) was underway, and the dismissal of the 28 officials was being decided.

“Different levels, different areas of focus. But the reasons are similar: unsatisfactory results of work,” he said.

On Sunday, he fired SBU chief Ivan Bakanov and Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova, citing hundreds of criminal proceedings into treason and collaboration by people within their departments and other law enforcement agencies.

“Six months into the war, we continue to uncover loads of these people in each of these agencies,” said Andriy Smirnov, deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office.

Analysts said the moves were designed to strengthen Zelenskyy’s control over the army and security agencies, which have been led by people appointed before Russia’s invasion began on February 24.

“In the conditions of a war, Zelenskyy needs leaders that are capable of tackling several tasks at the same time — to resist Russia’s intrigues within the country to create a fifth column, to be in contact and coordination with international experts, to do their actual job effectively,” Volodymyr Fesenko, a political analyst with the Penta Center think tank, told The Associated Press (AP).

Bakanov — a childhood friend and former business partner of Zelenskyy, who appointed him to head the SBU — had come under growing criticism over security breaches since the war began.

Venediktova won international praise for her drive to gather war-crimes evidence against Russian military commanders and officials, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, over the destruction of Ukrainian cities and the killing of civilians.

Close contact

Asked by reporters in Washington, D.C. about the personnel changes, United States State Department spokesman Ned Price said the two governments were in close contact.

“The fact is that, in all of our relationships — including this relationship — we invest not in personalities. We invest in institutions and, of course, President Zelenskyy has spoken [on] his rationale for making these personnel shifts,” Price said.

He said Washington would continue to work with Kyiv on war-crimes investigations and information sharing. Intelligence, he added, is “an important element of the assistance that we are providing to our Ukrainian partners in an effort to help them defend themselves.”

Zelenskyy appointed the SBU’s first deputy head, 39-year-old Vasyl Maliuk, to be acting chief. He is known for his efforts to fight corruption in the security agencies, and his appointment was seen as part of the president’s efforts to get rid of pro-Russian staffers in the SBU.

Fesenko said discontent with Bakanov and Venediktova had been brewing for a while, and it was possible that Ukraine’s Western partners pointed out the underperformance of the SBU and the prosecutor general’s office to Zelenskyy.

Meanwhile, Russia pressed forward with its missile and shelling attacks, which Ukrainian officials said were designed to intimidate the civilian population and create panic.

The commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, however, said his troops had “stabilized the situation” on the front, largely thanks to Western deliveries of technically advanced rocket systems.

“It is complex, tense, but completely controllable,” Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhny wrote on Telegram after a phone call with Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Ukraine’s Emergency Service said at least six people were killed on Monday by Russian shelling targeting the city of Toretsk in the Donetsk region. Toretsk was taken briefly during Moscow’s earlier invasion in 2014, but Ukrainian forces took the city back.

Donetsk Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said Russian shelling there was incessant, adding that four Russian strikes had been carried out on the city of Kramatorsk.

“We’re seeing that the Russians want to sow fear and panic,” Kyrylenko said in televised remarks. “The front line is moving, so civilians must leave the region and evacuate.”

Nearly 1,000 civilians were evacuated to Ukraine on Monday from Russian-held territories in the northern Kharkiv region, Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said. About a third of the region remains in Russian hands after Moscow’s troops overran it in April.

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