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Ukraine says it detained suspect accused of trying to map Zelensky's movements for Russia

The accusations could not be independently verified, and there was no immediate comment from the Kremlin or Russia’s Ministry of Defense.
Last Updated : 08 August 2023, 01:18 IST
Last Updated : 08 August 2023, 01:18 IST

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Ukraine’s security service said Monday it had detained a woman from the country’s Mykolaiv region who has been accused of trying to gather intelligence for Russia on the movements of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The accused informant had “tried” to establish the timing and route that Zelensky would take for a visit to the Mykolaiv region of southern Ukraine, the agency said in a statement. The Security Service of Ukraine, known as the SBU, also accused the woman of working to locate Ukrainian ammunition store points and electronic warfare systems in the area, saying it had intelligence that showed Russia sought the information in order to plan a “massive airstrike” in Mykolaiv — but did not specify whether Zelensky was the intended target.

“Officers detained the woman red-handed in her attempt to pass intelligence to the Russians,” the statement added, without providing further details.

The accusations could not be independently verified, and there was no immediate comment from the Kremlin or Russia’s Ministry of Defense.

The agency did not specify the dates of Zelensky’s visit but said the agency had detected the woman’s efforts and employed additional security measures ahead of time.

Zelensky has made at least two trips to the Mykolaiv region in the past two months. He traveled to the area in June to assess the damage from flooding after the breach of the Kakhovka Dam and again last month, when he visited hospitals and met with doctors in the city of Ochakiv.

In its statement Monday, the agency did not name the woman or when she had been detained, saying only that she was a resident of Ochakiv who had previously worked as a salesperson in a Ukrainian military store. She has been placed in custody and could face up to 12 years in prison, it added.

Concerns about Zelensky’s security have persisted since the early days of the war. When Russia launched its full-scale invasion in late February 2022, Moscow’s forces targeted Zelensky in their assault on the capital, Kyiv. Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelensky, said that March that there had been “more than a dozen attempts” to kill Zelensky.

Zelensky has been asked many times about how he feels to be the target of so many assassination attempts.

“It becomes repetitive — you remember that film, ‘Groundhog Day’?” he joked in an interview with Axios in May 2022, adding: “I wake up in the morning and it’s still the same.”

Although Zelensky did not comment directly Monday on the news from the Security Service, he said in a statement that in meetings he had been briefed by the agency’s chief about “the struggle against traitors” in Ukraine.

The country has been waging a war against spies and collaborators giving help to Russian forces while its soldiers simultaneously confront them on the battlefield. Since the invasion, fears have run high that Russian sympathizers would share the locations of sensitive Ukrainian targets — and Zelensky has taken an aggressive approach to going after any potential collaborators.

In July 2022, he dismissed two senior law enforcement officials, saying they had not been nearly aggressive enough in weeding out traitors.

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Published 08 August 2023, 01:18 IST

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