By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
KYIV/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has appointed a new security official as acting head of the domestic spy agency after two top officials amid allegations of treason. It comes as the death toll rises as Russia’s military attempts to capture the entire eastern Donbas region, Ukraine’s industrial heartland.
President Zelensky fired his longtime childhood friend as head of the Security Service of Ukraine, the SBU, and the prosecutor general. He explained that the most severe government changes since the Russian invasion began were necessary “as there were many cases of treason” in the two organizations.
The president claimed “more than 60 former employees” were now working against Ukraine in Russian-occupied areas. He said 651 collaboration and treason cases had been opened against law enforcement officials.
SBU Chief Ivan Bakanovwill, 47, will be replaced by Vasyl Malik, a former first deputy head of the spy agency. He led the SBU’s anti-corruption and organized crime unit, a significant operation in Ukraine that ranks among the world’s most corrupt nations.
Prosecutor Iryna Venediktova will be succeeded by her deputy, Oleksiy Symonenko. Venediktova took office in 2020 as Ukraine’s first
female law enforcement chief after Zelensky fired her predecessor, accusing him of “not producing results.”
But he warned at the time that someone else would be hired if she could not clamp down on corruption in the country. Yet her dismissal could impact war crimes investigations. Venediktova said recently that her office investigated some 21,000 war crimes and crimes of aggression allegedly committed by Russia since it invaded Ukraine in February.
And despite Zelensky’s announced changes, there were no signs Tuesday that the situation on the battlefields would improve for Ukraine soon, with the Russian invasion continuing in the east.
Authorities said at least six people were killed in shelling in the eastern Ukrainian town of Toretsk. And the Ukrainian army said the Russian forces were regrouping for an offensive in the direction of nearby Sloviansk. It is part of Russia’s goal of capturing Ukraine’s industrial heartland, the eastern Donbas region, after setbacks elsewhere in the country.
However, not everything goes according to plan for Russia. There were reports that Ukrainian forces are targeting sites in and around the Russian-held Kherson area, including the Kherson International Airport and one of the bridges that cross the Dnipro river.
Britain’s defense ministry confirmed what Worthy News learned earlier from a U.S. security source, saying Russia is employing private military contractor Wagner to reinforce its suffering regular troops fighting on the front line. The Wagner group allegedly lowered its recruitment standards by hiring convicts and individuals previously blacklisted, though those allegations could not be independently verified.
Amid the bloodshed, both sides exchanged human remains of fighters in Europe’s largest conflict since World War Two. Ukraine said it received the bodies of another 45 servicemen “in accordance with the norms of the Geneva Convention.”
Russia claimed to have killed at least 260 members of the Ukrainian forces in the last 24 hours. Moscow has also said North Korea could send workers to two Russian-controlled territories in eastern Ukraine. North Korea became one of only a few countries to recognize the two territories, accusing the Ukrainian government of being part of what it called Washington’s “hostile” stance towards Pyongyang.
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