Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Says It's Too Early To Comment On Her Suspension

Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Iryna Venediktova says she will not comment on the substance of her suspension now but will give a comprehensive statement later after the current situation regarding her status is settled.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced on July 17 that Venediktova and Ivan Bakanov, head of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), had been removed, citing dozens of cases of collaboration with Russia by officials in their agencies.

Venediktova said on Facebook on July 18 that she had not discussed the issue with anyone, and she refrained from commenting publicly "for one simple reason -- it's not time."

Venediktova also said she would not argue with Zelenskiy's decision.

A Ukrainian official said earlier that Venediktova and Bakanov had been suspended pending investigations but had not been formally dismissed as had previously been reported.

Andriy Smyrnov, deputy head of the presidential office, told Ukrainian television that Venediktova had been suspended and Bakanov had been "temporarily removed from fulfilling his duties" while "checks and investigations" are carried out.

Asked whether the two officials could return to their jobs if the investigations exonerate them, he said: "We live in a law-abiding country, and of course I can conceive of (the possibility of) this."

The United States will continue to proceed with providing intelligence to Ukraine after the suspension of the two officials, the U.S. State Department said on July 18.

In a statement on July 17, Zelenskiy said, without mentioning Venediktova or Bakanov by name, that "the specific actions and any inaction of each official in the security sector and in law enforcement agencies will be evaluated."

He said that, "as of today, 651 criminal proceedings have been registered regarding treason and collaboration activities of employees of the prosecutor's office, pretrial investigation bodies, and other law-enforcement agencies."

"In particular, more than 60 employees of the prosecutor's office and the SBU remained in the occupied territory and are working against our state," he said.

The "voluntary resignation" of another minister had been approved by the Verkhovna Rada, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on July 18.

The resignation of Maryna Lazebnaya from the post of minister of social policy was submitted on July 15.

Oksana Zholnovych has been appointed to replace her, and the Verkhovna Rada will consider the appointment at its next plenary session, said Ruslan Stefanchuk, the chairman of the parliament.

Zholnovych currently heads the Department of Social Policy and Health Care within the president's office.

With reporting by Reuters