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President Volodymyr Zelensky on Feb. 6 sent an official request to Ukraine’s parliament to appoint Vasyl Maliuk at the head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).
Maliuk has been the acting head of the SBU since July 2022, when Zelensky dismissed the previous head of the SBU, Ivan Bakanov, over endemic treason at the security service.
Maliuk is close to Zelensky's notorious deputy chief of staff Oleh Tatarov, anti-corruption activists say. In 2021, Maliuk attended a birthday party held by Tatarov, according to an investigation by the Ukrainska Pravda news outlet.
Tatarov was charged with bribery in 2020. Since then, his case has been destroyed by law enforcers, while Tatarov is believed to wield significant influence over most law enforcement bodies.
Tatarov also served pro-Kremlin ex-President Viktor Yanukovych as a top police official and was appointed in violation of the lustration law, which bans major Yanukovych-era officials from holding state jobs. Tatarov has also been investigated for persecuting protesters during the pro-Western EuroMaidan Revolution and publicly lashed out at them while defending the police who beat them.
Zelensky's decision to nominate Maliuk as the head of the SBU comes after an anti-corruption crackdown on Feb. 1, when law enforcers raided powerful oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, scandalous former Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and top tax and customs officials.
The large-scale operation came as the Ukrainian government sought to show that it is tackling corruption as the West provides unprecedented amounts of aid to Kyiv.
But critics question the sincerity of the anti-corruption drive since some notorious top officials accused of corruption, including Tatarov, are notably missing from the list of those fired or investigated.
Moreover, the most high-profile figures searched on Feb. 1 - Avakov and Kolomoisky - have not faced any charges so far.