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Zelenskyy fires security service chief accused of “weaponized draft” against journalist

The journalist had investigated the dodgy real estate purchases of the family of the chief of SBU’s cybersecurity department
Illia Vitiuk, head of the SBU's Cybersecurity Department
Illia Vitiuk, head of the SBU’s Cybersecurity Department. Credti: SBU/Facebook
Zelenskyy fires security service chief accused of “weaponized draft” against journalist

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy has fired Ilia Vitiuk, chief of the Security Service’s (SBU) cybersecurity department, following accusations of Vitiuk’s retaliation against a Slidstvo.info investigative journalist digging into his questionable real estate with a draft notice.

The incident had drawn condemnation from the Ukrainian media community. It was seen as continuing a trend of the SBU’s abusal of its powers to silence whistleblowers, as in February the SBU illegally surveilled investigative journalists from Bihus.info, obtaining material that allowed to launch a smear campaign against them.

Zelenskyy, the SBU, and Vitiuk himself have not yet publicly commented on the dismissal.

Head of the Security Service of Ukraine Vasyl Maliuk temporarily suspended Ilia Vitiuk, head of the Department for Counterintelligence Protection of the State’s Interests in the Field of Information Security, from his job on 9 April.

This decision was made following an incident where on 1 April, Slidstvo.info journalist Yevhen Shulhat was singled out and served a draft notice after he authored an investigation into the dodgy property purchases of Vitiuk’s wife. It found that the SBU cybersecurity chief’s wife and mother own real estate valued at over UAH 25.5 million ($657,558). The watchdog’s findings raised questions about the source of the family’s wealth and potential conflicts of interest.

On 11 April, Vitiuk was demoted and reassigned to the frontline.

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