Ukrainian authorities announced Sunday that they detained a former security chief after he was found working with Russian special services amid the ongoing war.
Investigators for the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) said the detainee, who was not named in the report, had served as the chief of one of the agency’s regional directorates. The detainee is suspected of committing three crimes, including the creation and management of a criminal community and participating in it, high treason and handing over information constituting a state secret to a foreign state.
The SSU said it is currently investigating to verify information about the former security chief’s crimes.
The SSU’s report came shortly before Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky fired Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova and leader of the SSU in Crimea Ivan Bakanov over treason and possibly collaborating with Russia. It is unclear whether the SSU’s report is related to Bakanov.
“Today I made a decision to remove the Prosecutor General from office and to dismiss the Head of the Security Service of Ukraine,” Zelensky said in his video address, a copy of which was posted on his official Telegram account.
Zelensky added that many officials within the Prosecutor General’s office and the SSU were suspected of treason. Ukrainian investigators have now opened 651 criminal proceedings investigating treason and collaboration activities of employees from both departments.
“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,” Zelensky said.
Senior officials, particularly those in the SSU in southern Ukraine, have been blamed for how easily Russian forces were able to enter and take over territories in the area shortly after the start of the invasion.
Ukrainian authorities have been cracking down on treason and spying activities in recent months. In late June, the SSU detained Ukrainian lawmaker Andriy Derkach for setting up a network of private security firms tasked with helping Russian soldiers enter several Ukrainian cities in the early days of the war. The lawmaker was also accused of helping Russians form a plan to capture Kyiv. However, the plan never came to fruition due to the Ukrainian army’s defenses.