Zelensky purges suspected collaborators. Source: THE GZERO NEWSLETTER SIGNAL

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Zelensky purges suspected collaborators

William Shakespeare knew that for a lightweight to become a leader, he must sometimes banish his old friends. On Sunday, President Volodymyr Zelensky took down two of his most trusted allies, spy chief Ivan Bakanov and Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova. He had little choice, he told listeners during a video speech.

More than 60 officials working under their command, Zelensky explained, are suspected of working against Ukraine in Russian-occupied territory, and more than 650 treason and collaboration cases have been opened against Ukrainian law enforcement officials. “Such an array of crimes against the foundations of the national security of the state … pose very serious questions to the relevant leaders,” Zelensky said.

It’s a reminder that Russian security services have spent decades recruiting and embedding pro-Russian officials in senior positions within Ukraine’s government.

Bakanov and Venediktova, who are considered Zelensky loyalists, have not yet been fired. (Bakanov is Zelensky’s childhood friend.) They are suspended, pending an investigation. But Ukraine’s president has signaled that he knows Russia’s invasion of Ukraine extends far beyond men with guns.

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