Amid Russian bombardment, Ukraine aims to strengthen its government – ​​News

Ukraine’s presidential office said seven Ukrainian regions suffered attacks

A man removes debris inside an apartment in a residential building destroyed by a Russian artillery strike. —Reuters


Published: Tue, Jul 19, 2022, 12:05 AM

With Russian bombardment across the country showing no signs of abating, Ukraine’s leaders on Monday sought to bolster their own ranks after President Volodymyr Zelensky sacked two top officials over allegations they failed to clear their agencies of “collaborators and traitors”.

Internal investigations were to be launched after the dismissal of Ivan Bakanov, the head of Ukraine’s Security Service, or SBU, and Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova. The acting heads of the two agencies have been appointed.

Zelensky cited hundreds of criminal prosecutions for treason and collaboration by individuals within these departments and other law enforcement agencies.

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

Analysts said the move was aimed at tightening Zelensky’s control over the military and security agencies, which were headed by appointees before the Russian invasion began on Feb. 24. said Volodymyr Fesenko, political analyst at the Penta Center think tank.

“In the conditions of a war, Zelensky needs leaders who can tackle several tasks at once – to resist the intrigues of Russia inside the country to create a fifth column, to be in contact and in coordination with international experts, to make their real work work effectively,” Fesenko said.

Bakanov is a childhood friend and former business partner of Zelensky, who appointed him head of the SBU. Bakanov had come under increasing criticism over security breaches since the start of the war.

Venediktova has received international praise for her drive to gather evidence of war crimes against Russian military commanders and officials, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, relating to the destruction of Ukrainian cities and the killing of civilians. The 43-year-old former law professor has opened thousands of criminal investigations and identified hundreds of suspects, interviewing victims while coordinating efforts with donors and foreign officials.

After appointing an acting chief prosecutor on Sunday, Zelensky signed a decree on Monday appointing the SBU’s first deputy chief, Vasyl Maliuk, as acting chief. Maliuk, 39, is known for his efforts to fight corruption within security agencies; his appointment was seen as part of Zelensky’s efforts to get rid of pro-Russian SBU personnel.

“Maliuk was fighting corruption in the SBU, so (he) has incriminating documents on many staff members and can control staff, many of whom look in the direction of Russia,” said political analyst Vadym Karasiov, director of the Global Strategies Institute. said.

Fesenko added that dissatisfaction with the two officials had been simmering for some time and that it was possible that Ukraine’s western partners had pointed out to Zelensky the underperformance of the SBU and the prosecutor general’s office.

Meanwhile, Russia continued its missile and bombing attacks, which Ukrainian officials said were designed to intimidate the civilian population and spread panic. Ukraine’s presidential office said seven Ukrainian regions had come under attack in the past 24 hours.

Ukrainian emergency services said at least six people were killed on Monday by Russian shelling targeting the town of Toretsk in Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine. Toretsk was briefly taken during the 2014 Russian invasion, but Ukrainian forces eventually recaptured the city.

Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said Russian shelling of the region was incessant. Four Russian strikes were carried out on the town of Kramatorsk, he said, urging civilians to evacuate.

“We see that the Russians want to sow fear and panic,” Kyrylenko said in televised remarks. “The front line is moving, so civilians have to leave the area and evacuate.”

Nearly 1,000 civilians were evacuated to Ukraine on Monday from Russian-held territories in the northern Kharkiv region, Governor Oleh Syniehubov said. About a third of the region remains in Russian hands after troops from Moscow overran it in April. Kharkiv is the second largest city in Ukraine and is close to the border with Russia.

On Monday in Kyiv, a funeral was held at the golden-domed St. Michael’s Monastery for a Ukrainian soldier killed when his car hit a landmine near Izium last week. His family could not bury him in their hometown in eastern Ukraine as it remains under Russian occupation.

The cathedral was packed with mourners paying their last respects to Fanat, as the soldier was known. Each time the priest stopped, the voice of the soldier’s mother echoed through the church.

“We will love you forever and ever. We will miss you so much!” she cried, stroking the closed coffin. “Why do we need to live in this accursed war? »

In other developments on Monday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu inspected troops involved in the fighting in Ukraine and ordered the military to prioritize the destruction of long-range missiles and Ukrainian artillery, according to a statement from the ministry. It was unclear when or where the inspection took place.

A new round of talks on resuming grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports could take place in Turkey later this week, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has said. Turkey last week hosted a meeting between UN officials and military delegations from Russia, Ukraine and Turkey to discuss a UN plan to allow Ukraine to export grain safely via the Black Sea. The date of the new meeting has not been announced. Some 22 million tons of cereals are blocked in Ukraine because of the war.

Putin said on Monday that he was dedicated to improving the living standards of Russians during the military operation in Ukraine.

About Tammy N. McFarlane

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