Ukraine names corruption department head as acting security agency chief

·1 min read

KYIV (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy appointed an experienced security official and corruption fighter as the acting head of the domestic security agency on Monday after abruptly sidelining his predecessor.

Zelenskiy signed a decree appointing Vasyl Maliuk as acting chief of the State Security Service (SBU), one day after the president suspended childhood friend Ivan Bakanov over what he portrayed as a failure to root out treason in the agency.

Maliuk, 39, had been first deputy head of the SBU since March 2020 and headed the Main Directorate for Combating Corruption and Organised Crime of the SBU's Central Directorate, according to his profile on the SBU website.

Zelenskiy also suspended Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova on Sunday, citing dozens of cases of collaboration with Russia by officials in her office and the SBU.

Andriy Smyrnov, deputy head of the presidential office, told Ukrainian television on Monday that the two officials might eventually return if they are exonerated by the investigations into their agencies.

"We live in a law-abiding country, and of course I can conceive of (the possibility of) this," Smyrnov said.

In a further top-level change, parliament voted to accept the resignation of Social Policy Minister Maryna Lazebna on Monday. She did not explain her resignation, which she tendered last week.

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal issued a statement thanking her for her "effective" work in the role since March 2020.

He did not say who would replace her but Yaroslav Zhelezniak, an opposition deputy, said Zelenskiy was widely expected to nominate a replacement from the presidential office.

(Reporting by Max Hunder, Aleksandar Vasovic and Natalia Zinets, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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