Zelensky fires head of bodyguard after failed plot

Image source, Eugen Kotenko / Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Image

Legend, Serhiy Rud has headed Ukraine’s state protection department since 2019 (file photo)

  • Author, Paul Kirby
  • Role, BBC News

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has fired the head of his personal protection unit after two of his top officials were arrested over an alleged assassination plot.

Serhiy Rud has headed the president’s security services since 2019.

No reason was given for his dismissal, which was announced in a brief presidential decree.

However, the administration of the State Guard (UDO) is essential to the security of not only the President but also other key figures of Ukraine and their families.

The two State Guard colonels arrested Tuesday are suspected of belonging to a network of agents run by Russia’s FSB security service.

Mr. Zelensky spoke of repeated Russian plots to assassinate him, but the latest revelations implicated his own inner circle and also targeted military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov and SBU state security chief Vasyl Malyuk.

Mr. Malyuk said this week that the plot was to culminate in a “gift to Putin” before he inaugurates his fifth term as president on Tuesday.

Individuals close to President Zelensky’s bodyguard were supposed to kidnap and kill him, while Mr. Budanov was allegedly attacked with rockets, drones and anti-tank grenades, the SBU said.

There is no indication that Serhiy Rud, 47, has any connection to the allegations, although one of the two detained colonels, Andriy Huk, was considered a personal friend. Ukrainian reports indicate that they had studied together at the border troops academy many years ago.

Major General Rud served in the Ukrainian military for most of his adult life, and much of his career was focused on state security.

Since Russian paratroopers attempted to land in kyiv and assassinate President Zelensky in the first hours and days of the full-scale invasion in February 2022, plots to assassinate him have been commonplace.

Ukraine’s leader said at the start of the invasion that he was Russia’s “number one target.”

President Zelensky has frequently replaced key figures in Ukraine’s security forces and also announced on Thursday that special forces commander Colonel Serhiy Lupanchuk had been removed from his post just months after taking office.

The man who led Ukraine’s defense during the first two years of Russia’s full-scale invasion, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, was replaced in February. He has now been appointed Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Kingdom and awarded the title “Hero of Ukraine”.

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