One of Ukraine’s famous Telegram channels has published a new portion of incriminating evidence. The plot is that allegedly chairman of the Security Service (SBU), Ivan Bakanov, is talking with the former head of the State Investigations Bureau (SIB) Roman Truba. In particular, he calls the head of the Presidential Office, Andriy Bogdan, courts “underboss.” The epoch-making conversation allegedly took place on September 6, 2019, but they made it public after six months. Why did they do it just now? Probably, someone wanted to target Truba? Or Bakanov? Or, after all, the odious head of the presidential office?
According to the audio records, former SIB head is discussing with the SBU head employees of the "administration" (that is, the presidential administration) responsible for the judicial system. They talk about Andriy Bogdan. This is directly indicated by a "voice similar to Ivan Bakanov."
"There must be the first case against some judge. They are all recorded. It's not a secret. They are all fixed. But the judicial system works in such a way that it then releases everyone. That is, police caught and sued everyone: bandits, code-bound criminals – and the court simply let them go after getting bribes. Then the prosecutors tried to join this process, like, hey, is there any room for us here? They started to let them go a little earlier. The court said: “It won’t do that, they agreed.” Then the police said: “Gentlemen, sorry, why are we going to catch them at all? We’d better not catch them for money.” And thus three parties agreed. Then the lawyers said: “Dear gentlemen, where are our earnings? You make a lot of violation when you perform your functions incorrectly.” And these four began to rob both bandits and honest people. For there was a corrupt bunch: a lawyer, the one who is investigating, the prosecutor, the court. And here the fifth party has joined them – the head of the Presidential Administration. As an undergod from... (Bakanov points up)."
As for his interlocutor, he reacts succinctly and calmly. “Good,” Roman Truba says, having listened to the data that should hit him — at least theoretically. But the theory ends in a place, where the practice begins. That is, searches for both the customer of the scandal and the person most affected by it.
Actually, everything is very muddy in this situation. Including the one whom Bakanov directly pointed to – President Zelensky. Because, in the end, the creation of such a corruption scheme is his area of responsibility. But we are far from the idea that this campaign was launched for the sake of compromising the head of state.
However, director of the Ukrainian Institute for Analysis and Policy Management Ruslan Bortnyk suggests that they wanted to tarnish the SIB as a state institution. What for? The latter is investigating cases against Petro Poroshenko, Bortnyk recalls, so the search for the customer might be sought in this direction.
"There are rumors that Bogdan would hold the office until March 1. Someone talks about Bakanov’s resignation, but now it’s less likely, he has not exhausted the president’s confidence. But the dismissal of Bogdan is possible, along with a number of ministers. And Andriy Yermak would most likely replace him," Bortnyk assures.
The conflict between Andriy Bogdan and Andriy Yermak (Zelensky’s adviser) is a separate issue. This conflict has developed over the past few months and perhaps went into a hot phase during a farewell ceremony for the crew members and passengers of the downed Ukrainian Boeing, who died in Iran. The Ukrainska Pravda outlet, citing its sources, reported that this was the case.
On the eve of the day when the board with the bodies of the dead was supposed to arrive in Kyiv, the presidential office agreed on the procedure for holding mourning events. Placing their participants, Bogdan decided to put freelance adviser Yermak in the second row, behind the backs of the state leadership, as it should be under the diplomatic protocol. But it was Yermak who made a lot of efforts to ensure that the dead were returned to Ukraine. The official complained to Zelensky about Bogdan’s behavior. And the president took the side of his adviser. It was already Bogdan’s turn to be offended, so he did not show up to the ceremony.
Deputy Director of the Ukrainian Institute for the Study of Extremism Bogdan Petrenko assures that “Yermak might not be interested in heading the Presidential Administration. He is already quite close to the president.”
But political analyst Kyrylo Sazonov notes that: “Bogdan’s discharge is beneficial to Yermak’s group, he has now bypassed Bogdan by influence, and it is Bogdan who is the target of a smear campaign. That is, the goal is to weaken Bogdan’s influence or even displace him altogether.”
Zelensky will be careful when choosing the new head of his office. He will not allow freaks like the current head of the Presidential Office,” political scientist Yevhen Bulavka suggests. “If Bogdan leaves, then, perhaps, a non-charismatic person, a technocrat will be appointed in his place.”
A person without influence is really better suited for the role of the head of the Presidential Office. So, at least, a number of conflicting issues will be addressed. Because Bogdan is used to intervening where his intervention caused idiosyncrasy.
At the same time, while being in Israel, President Zelensky announced the local media personnel changes in his environment. He noted: “I’m sure that we will witness numerous personnel changes, and this is normal. We need to change and change to choose the perfect team,” Zelensky said in an interview with an Israeli television channel. He added that he was going to refute the idea that Ukraine is a country of total corruptive officials. So where is he going to root out corruption? Did he mean his own office?
Kyrylo Sazonov adds: “Zelensky will try to put the blame economic failures on the government. Utility tariffs are not reducing, salaries are not rising, and the poverty has not been defeated. Zelensky is not to blame for this, is he? Therefore, the Cabinet is likely to resign in spring (at least partially).
“Ukrainians have a false expectation: they believe that a change of personalities will help improve the situation,” Petrenko summarizes.