Zelensky plans to fire Ukraine’s top spy – Politico — Analysis

The head of Ukraine’s Security Service has allegedly fallen out of favor with the Ukrainian president

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reportedly has plans to fire his childhood friend, Ivan Bakanov, from his role as head of Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU), according to a report published on Thursday by Politico, citing four Kiev officials.

Bakanov, who has been at Zelensky’s side since high school and served as his manager during his early days as a comedian, has allegedly drawn the ire of the Ukrainian leader over his alleged unprofessionalism. Zelensky reportedly blames Bakanov for allowing a string of mishaps and mass desertions in his agency since the start of Russia’s military offensive against the country and is now looking to replace him with someone “more suitable to serve as the wartime chief of the SBU.”

According to reports, Kiev authorities were “very unsatisfied” with Bakanov’s performance as the nation’s top spy and have been actively trying to “get rid of him,”A top Ukrainian official spoke to Politico under anonymity.

“We are not satisfied with his managerial, you know, [skills] because now you need … anti-crisis management skills like we don’t think that he has,” the anonymous official was quoted as saying, since there are people in Kiev who reportedly blame Bakanov for failing to respond to Russia’s military offensive on February 24.

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As one of Zelensky’s most trusted confidants and business partners, Bakanov was personally appointed to the position by the Ukrainian leader in 2019 after Zelensky came into office. In his first role, he was the First Deputy head of the agency and was responsible for leading the anti-corruption division. Later that year, he became the chief of the whole organisation.

However, since the beginning of his tenure at the SBU, Bakanov has faced sharp criticism from Ukrainian opposition parties, who have insisted that Bakanov’s background in show business is not a good fit for the head of the nation’s top intelligence-gathering agency.

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