The Ukrainian government has fired the leader and deputy head of a state cybersecurity agency, as anti-corruption investigators launched a new probe into wrongdoing.
Yurii Shchyhol was head of the State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection of Ukraine (SSSCIP), whose job it is to secure internal government communications, among other things.
Both Shchyhol and his number two, Viktor Zhora, were dismissed on Monday, according to a curt Telegram post from senior cabinet official Taras Melnychuk. They will be replaced temporarily by Dmytro Makovsky.
Although there was no word on the post about the reasons for the dismissal, reports suggest Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau is looking at the duo’s role in a plot to embezzle 62 million Ukrainian hryvnia ($1.7m) between 2020 and 2022.
The plotters are said to have conspired to buy software at an inflated price from two companies they controlled, in a sale closed to other bidders.
The Zelenskiy administration is putting much effort into weeding out corruption as it looks to accelerate its accession to the EU. The European Commission earlier this month recommended that formal talks should begin with the war-torn country soon, although the process will take years.
For their part, both Shchyhol and Zhora have taken to social media to protest their innocence.
“I only regret that I didn’t have time to launch the national bug bounty, we didn’t manage to pass the draft law 8087, which is extremely necessary for the state, didn’t manage to legislate the cyber forces, despite the laid foundations for their creation,” Zhora said on X (formerly Twitter).
“In the near future, I plan to decide how I can best be useful to the Armed Forces.”
The SSSCIP has also reportedly claimed that its procurement processes were legal and above board, and that it is cooperating fully with the investigation.
Dear Colleagues, I have completed my term as CDTO of the @SSSCIP. It will be superfluous to talk about the successes of the Service as a whole, the CERT-UA team and the State Cyber Protection Center, in particular, during the war. pic.twitter.com/a0qQC2oVFb
— Victor Zhora (@VZhora) November 20, 2023