Zelensky fires head of bodyguard after failed assassination plot

Zelensky fires head of bodyguard after failed assassination plot
Zelensky fires head of bodyguard after failed assassination plot

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - KYIV — Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky has sacked the head of his personal protection unit after two of its top officials were detained over an alleged assassination plot.

Serhiy Rud has led the president's security detail since 2019.

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

However, the state guard administration (UDO) is critical for the safety not only of the president but other key figures in Ukraine and their families.

The two colonels in the state guard who were detained on Tuesday are suspected of belonging to a network of agents run by Russia's FSB security service.

Mr Zelensky has spoken of repeated Russian plots to assassinate him, but the latest revelations involved his own entourage and also targeted military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov and the head of the SBU state security service, Vasyl Malyuk.

Mr Malyuk said this week that the plot was due to culminate with a "gift to Putin" before his fifth term as president was inaugurated on Tuesday.

Individuals close to President Zelensky's bodyguard were meant to kidnap and kill him, while Mr Budanov would have been attacked with rockets, drones and anti-tank grenades, the SBU said.

There was no suggestion that Serhiy Rud, 47, had any link to the allegations, although one of the two colonels in detention, Andriy Huk, was seen as a personal friend. Ukrainian reports said they had studied together in the border troops academy many years ago.

Maj Gen Rud has served in Ukraine's military for most of his adult life, and much of his career has been focused on state security.

Ever since Russian paratroopers attempted to land in Kyiv and assassinate President Zelensky in the early hours and days of the full-scale invasion in February 2022, plots to assassinate him have been commonplace.

The Ukrainian leader said at the start of the invasion he was Russia's "number one target".

President Zelensky has frequently replaced key figures in Ukraine's security forces, and on Thursday he also announced that the commander of special forces, Col Serhiy Lupanchuk, was being moved from the role only months into the job.

The man who led Ukraine's defense in the first two years of Russia's full-scale invasion, Gen Valerii Zaluzhnyi, was replaced in February. He has now been appointed as Ukraine's ambassador to the UK and given the title "Hero of Ukraine". — BBC

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