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Yesterday, June 18, the head of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, was dismissed by President Petro Poroshenko. The move comes a week after Nalyvaichenko himself fired the Chief Directorate for fighting corruption and organized crime at the SBU.
So what’s going on inside the SBU?
UKRINFORM, one of Ukraine’s most important news agencies, has suggested that there is a conflict between the SBU and former deputy prosecutor Anatoliy Danylenko. In the first week of June a massive explosion tore through an oil depot near Kiev, an explosion which may or may not have been deliberate sabotage. That oil facility was owned by the BRSM-Nafta company, which Nalyvaichenko said was in turn partially owned by Danylenko.
On June 15, Nalyvaichenko said that Anatoliy Danylenko, the deputy of the former prosecutor general, had provided political “cover” for the activities of the oil depot where a fire broke out near Vasylkiv in Kyiv region on June 8. Since then, rumors began to circulate about the conflict between the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine and the Security Service of Ukraine, and some officials and media spoke of intents to dismiss Nalyvaichenko.
The Ukrainian Weekly suggests that Nalyvaichenko was originally given his post as a deal between one of Ukraine’s richest oligarchs, Dmitro Firtash (whom the U.S. tried to extradite for bribery), Petro Poroshenko, and now-Kiev-mayor and former presidential candidate Vitali Klitschko — therefore Nalyvaichenko’s dismissal has more to do with Poroshenko making sure he has a loyal government than anything else:
On June 12, Mr. Nalyvaichenko decided to announce at a roundtable event in Kyiv that he had dismissed the directors of the SBU’s Anti-Corruption and Organized Crime Administration, including its first deputy head, Yurii Artiukhov, who was identified by the insider.ua news site as being loyal to Mr. Poroshenko.
The same evening, Mr. Nalyvaichenko went on the “Shuster Live” talk show – broadcast by the Inter television network reported to be controlled by Mr. Firtash – to accuse an unidentified former deputy prosecutor general of taking bribes from the owners of an allegedly illegal gasoline storage facility outside of Kyiv that exploded and burned for a week.
He also said he filed criminal charges for “ecocide” in relation to the gasoline storage base fire.
“The last straw for Poroshenko was when he aired dirty laundry on the Shuster show,” [Petro Oleshchuk, a political science lecturer at Shevchenko National University in Kyiv] said. “He never made such public scandals in the past. The president sets a firm line and never liked those who tried to play their own political game.”
KYIV – Ukraine's Parliament voted on June 18 to approve President Petro Poroshenko's request to dismiss Valentyn Nalyvaichenko as head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), the country's leading national security body. While the president argued that Mr. Nalyvaichenko had failed to fulfill his responsibilities, Mr. Poroshenko's critics argued that the dismissal was revenge […]
Kyiv Post reports that the ecocide case against former deputy prosecutor Anatoliy Danylenko has now been dropped, following Nalyvaichenko’s dismissal:
His dismissal also triggered an uproar over alleged horse-trading at the Verkhovna Rada that led to it and allegations that either Nalyvaichenko or President Petro Poroshenko is linked to exiled tycoon Dmytro Firtash. Corruption accusations have also been made against Nalyvaichenko’s potential replacement Anatoly Hrytsak and other top SBU officials.
The case against Danylenko, who has been at the center of several major corruption scandals, is being halted as critics accuse the Prosecutor General’s Office of failing to investigate any high-profile graft cases.
“We have found out that Danylenko is not a co-owner (of BRSM-Nafta) and has not struck any deals,” Shokin said. “The ecocide case has been closed. It was started without proper grounds. Currently we have no questions for Danylenko.”
At the same time, the SBU cancelled an interrogation of Danylenko scheduled for June 19, UNN reported, citing the security agency.
Lada L. Roslycky, Director of Strategic Communications at Ukraine Today, has written an editorial which suggests that Nalvyvaichenko was going to present to the U.S. Congress information about Russia’s aggression, and this is why his trip was blocked:
[Nalvyvaichenko]’s trip to the US, where he was to present evidence of Russian aggression, was blocked by the Prosecutor General who apparently clashed with Ukraine’s top spy over an alleged cover-up of corruption regarding the BRSM-Nafta oil depot which had been on fire for almost a fortnight. Thank goodness one of the largest fires in Ukraine’s history has been extinguished. What will become of the corruption scandal remains to be seen. Rather shockingly, the Prosecutor General has asked the United States to investigate the case.
In other words, many different sides are pointing fingers in different directions, and the true allegiance of many of these players is not clear.
What is clear, however, is that the political fallout is just beginning. Poroshenko appears to have made enemies of a large bloc of the parliament, including Klitschko’s UDAR party.
— James Miller
The Ukrainian military’s ATO Press Centre claims that Russian-backed forces have mounted extensive attacks across the front line today.
The report claims that 50 violations of the ceasefire were recorded.
In the Lugansk region, the ATO Press Centre reports that Ukrainian positions near Popasnaya were bombarded with Grad MLRS this morning. Zolotoye, to the north-east, was shelled twice with 152 mm howitzers.
19 mortar attacks were reported over the day. Targets included Taramchuk and Beryozvoye, on the Donetsk-Mariupol highway, as well as Marinka and Krasnogorovka, west of Donetsk, Opytnoye, north of Donetsk and, in the Lugansk region, Tryokhizbenka, Geyevka and Zolotoye.
The Press Centre reports that towards the evening, tanks have been used to “methodically shell Opytnoye, Avdeyevka and the Butovka mine.”
In Schastye and the village of Lopaskino, Russian fighters engaged Ukrainian troops in combat. The report claims that the Russian-backed fighters withdrew.
— Pierre Vaux
The Azov regiment has announced that one of their fighters has been wounded as a result of shelling in the village of Shirokino, east of Mariupol.
According to the report, the soldier received light wounds and his life is not reported to be in danger.
The Azov press office claimed that Russian-backed forces had fired on their positions several times with automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades, recoilless rifles and heavy calibre machine guns, as well as 82 and 120 mm mortars.
In Berdyanskoye, to the west of Shirokino, shelling has disrupted electricity and water supplies:
Translation: Berdyanskoye: No electricity or water after DNR mortar shelling!
— Pierre Vaux
The Ukrainian military’s ATO Press Centre claimed this morning that Russian-backed forces had attacked Ukrainian positions 55 times last night and 90 times over the last 24 hours.
According to the report, the Marinka suburb of Donetsk, which has been repeatedly assaulted this month, saw the most activity, with Russian-backed forces using 120 mm mortars, Grad MLRS, BMP-2s, grenade launchers and small arms in at least 10 attacks.
The report says that Russian-backed assault teams twice attempted to push the Ukrainian forces back from their positions during the night but suffered losses and were forced to retreat.
Moving clockwise around Donetsk from Marinka, Krasnogorovka, Peski and Opytnoye were all shelled with 82 mm mortars.
Russian-backed forces reportedly fired 152 mm howitzers at Shirokaya Balka, west of Gorlovka, and Shirokino, where they also used 120 mm mortars.
North of Shirokino, the village of Chermalyk was shelled with the same weapons.
In the Lugansk region, Ukrainian positions near Zolotoye and east of Krymskoye were attacked.
The military also claimed that Russian-backed forces had used Grad MLRS, but the report does not state where.
Ukrainska Pravda reports that Andiry Lysenko, a military spokesman for the Presidential Administration, told reporters today that only one Ukrainian soldier had been wounded over the last 24 hours and that there were no fatalities.
Lysenko said that the soldier was wounded near Avdeyevka, north of Donetsk.
The office of the separatist-backed ‘mayor’ of Donetsk, Igor Martynov, claimed that the Kievsky and Petrovsky districts of the separatist-held city had been heavily shelled by Ukrainian forces last night.
According to the report, shells struck 17 residential buildings and the administrative building of the Putilovsky market, south-east of Donetsk Airport.
One woman was reported to have been killed by the shelling.