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The officials responsible for protecting Ukraine's cyber space have been dismissed due to corruption.
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The officials responsible for protecting Ukraine’s cyber space have been dismissed due to corruption.

According to a government official, two top Ukrainian officials in charge of cyber defense were dismissed on Monday due to accusations of embezzlement within the country’s cybersecurity agency.

Taras Melnychuk, a senior official in the cabinet, announced on Telegram that Yurii Shchyhol, the leader of the Ukrainian State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection (SSSCIP), and his deputy, Viktor Zhora, have been removed from their positions by the government.

The spokesperson for the cabinet in parliament, Melnychuk, did not disclose the cause for the firings. According to Interfax Ukraine, Shchyhol stated on Facebook that he is certain he can demonstrate his innocence. There has been no immediate response from Zhora.

The SSSCIP’s duty is to safeguard government communications and protect the country against cyberattacks.

The head and deputy head of the SSSCIP are being investigated by anti-corruption prosecutors for their alleged involvement in a scheme to embezzle 62 million Ukrainian hryvnia ($1.72 million) from 2020 to 2022, which involved six individuals.

The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine reported that government officials are being investigated for purchasing software from two companies they are believed to have influence over, at a higher price than necessary. The sale was not open to other potential buyers.

The SSSCIP stated on Telegram that it is working with investigators and all procurement done by the agency was done in accordance with the law.

In September of last year, Shchyhol informed Reuters that Russian agents were employing hackers to attack computer networks of law enforcement organizations in order to uncover and gather proof of supposed war crimes committed by Russia.

Ukraine has intensified its actions to combat corruption in pursuit of joining the European Union, as the EU has deemed the battle against bribery as a crucial condition for starting negotiations.

Polish protests

This week, Kyiv plans to discuss with Poland and the European Commission regarding the export of Ukrainian goods through Polish routes.

According to Ukrainian officials, approximately 3,000 trucks, mostly from Ukraine, were stranded on the Polish border on Sunday morning because of a prolonged blockade by Polish truck drivers.

In the beginning of this month, truck drivers from Poland obstructed traffic on three border crossings with Ukraine as a way to express their frustration with the government’s lack of action regarding a decrease in business due to foreign competitors after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

FILE - Trucks line up near the Polish-Ukrainian border crossing in Dorohusk, Poland, on Nov. 10, 2023. Polish trucking representatives said on Nov. 13, 2023, that talks with Ukrainian officials had failed to end a dispute over what they call unfair competition.

Trucks are waiting in a queue at the border between Poland and Ukraine in Dorohusk, Poland on November 10, 2023. According to Polish trucking representatives, discussions with Ukrainian authorities on November 13, 2023 were unsuccessful in resolving a disagreement regarding what they perceive as unjust competition.

Since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia, truck drivers from Ukraine no longer need to obtain permits in order to cross the Polish border.

Truck drivers from Poland are requesting a restricted amount of licenses to be given to truck drivers from Ukraine, but Kyiv has stated that they will not take this demand into account.

On Monday, Taras Kachka, a Ukrainian trade representative, stated on television that negotiations in a trilateral format are planned for this week.

The individual stated that the obstructions could potentially impact essential energy supplies for Ukraine, a nation that is continuously facing aggression from Russia.

Russian shelling increases

On Monday, authorities reported that three individuals were killed and power lines and a gas pipeline were damaged in the central region of Dnipropetrovsk and the southern region of Kherson in Ukraine due to shelling by Russian forces.

According to a message from Serhiy Lysak on Telegram, a Russian artillery attack on Nikopol resulted in the death of an elderly woman and injury of a man.

According to Oleksandr Prokudin, the regional Governor, two drivers lost their lives on Monday morning due to an attack by Russian forces on a parking lot belonging to a private transport company in Kherson.

Damage to a building is seen after a reported deadly Russian artillery strike in Kherson, Ukraine, in this still image from handout video released Nov. 20, 2023. (Kherson Regional State Administration/Handout via Reuters)

The aftermath of a reported fatal artillery attack by Russian forces in Kherson, Ukraine can be seen in this still image from a video released on November 20, 2023 by the Kherson Regional State Administration.

As the winter season nears, there has been a rise in Russian drone strikes on Kyiv, with a focus on damaging Ukrainian infrastructure.

According to a statement from the military, 20 drones manufactured in Iran were launched by Russia, with the intention of targeting the capital of Ukraine and the regions of Cherkasy and Poltava.

Fifteen drones were brought down by Ukrainian anti-aircraft systems.

The spokesperson for Ukraine’s Military Administration, Serhii Popko, stated that drones launched attacks on Kyiv from various directions in a constantly shifting pattern.

During his regular video speech, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed his gratitude towards U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin for promising $100 million in additional military assistance to Ukraine.

Zelenskyy expressed appreciation for the new defense package our country received from the United States. He specifically mentioned an increase in artillery and necessary shells.

The president of Ukraine emphasized discussions about increasing collaborative efforts with Bulgaria, Romania, and Moldova. He mentioned the importance of the maritime corridor, the Danube export cluster, and the overall trade between our nations.

The Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse provided some of the information used in this article.