The protesters gathered outside the President’s Office after attending a march marking the eighth anniversary of the EuroMaidan Revolution on Nov. 21.
The demonstrators demanded that Andriy Yermak, the head of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office, be fired. If he is not removed from his post within the next 10 days, activists said they would protest indefinitely and call for Zelensky’s impeachment.
Dissatisfaction with Yermak has been mounting among the president’s opponents. The chief of staff is often seen as being too influential for his position.
The protests were triggered by the allegations that Yermak sabotaged a top-level operation by Ukraine’s intelligence. On Nov. 17, the investigative project Bellingcat published a report that alleges that Ukraine’s sting operation to capture 33 Russian Wagner Group mercenaries that had fought in the Donbas failed after Yermak delayed it.
According to the report, Ukraine planned to intercept a plane from Minsk to Istanbul with the militants aboard. But after the delay, they were instead arrested in Belarus and later sent back to Russia.
On Nov. 19, Vasyl Burba, ex-head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, said that Yermak had told him he was acting on presidential orders when he delayed the operation.
Yermak’s adviser Mykhailo Podoliak denied the allegations, saying that Yermak doesn’t have the authority to delay intelligence operations.
The presidential administration has been changing its narrative about what happened. When the failed operation was first reported by Ukrainian journalists in 2020, Yermak denied that Ukraine’s intelligence has ever prepared such an operation.