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Zelensky shakes up Presidential Office with more dismissals

by Chris York March 30, 2024 11:59 AM 2 min read
In this archival photo, Serhiy Shefir (L) walks next to Volodymyr Zelensky during Zelensky's presidential inauguration on May 20, 2019. The next day, Zelensky appointed Shefir, his long-time business partner, as his first aide. (President's Office)
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President Volodymyr Zelensky dismissed two more members of the Presidential Office and four advisors, it was announced on March 30, in a continuing reshuffle of his inner circle.

In decrees published online, Zelensky's First Aide Serhiy Shefir and Commissioner for Soldiers' Rights Alyona Verbytska were dismissed from their roles. No reasons were given.

Shefir is a long-time business partner and acquaintance of Zelensky, appointed as first aide immediately after the president took office in May 2019.

In September 2021, Shefir survived an assassination attempt when a gunman opened fire on his car near Kyiv.

Though the perpetrators were never identified, fingers were pointed at Russia, “shadowy oligarchs” and criminal groups working for Ukraine’s “foreign opponents.”

Before politics, Shefir worked in film and TV and was producer on “Servant of the People,” the 2015-2019 comedy series in which Zelensky played a high-school history teacher who is unexpectedly elected president.

Shefir largely disappeared from public view since the launch of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

As well as the dismissals of Shefir and Verbytska, four others have been dismissed – Natalia Pushkaryova from the duties of president's commissioner for volunteers, and three non-staff advisors: lawmaker Mykhailo Radutsky, former deputy head of the Presidential Office Serhiy Trofimov, and economist Oleh Ustenko.

The president said back in February that a reset of Ukraine's leadership was necessary and could involve several personnel shakeups beyond the military.

On March 29, Zelensky dismissed Andrii Smirnov and Oleksii Dniprov from their posts as deputy heads of the Presidential Office.

They were replaced by Deputy Justice Minister Iryna Mudra and by Olena Kovalska, who worked at the Presidential Office's Main Department of Strategic Communications of the Information Policy Directorate and headed the Cabinet of the Presidential Office's head, Andriy Yermak.

The changes have been announced amid a wider personnel reshuffle, which also included the replacement of National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov by the chief of the Foreign Intelligence Service, Oleksandr Lytvynenko, on March 26.

In turn, Danilov was appointed as Ukraine's ambassador to Moldova, replacing Markо Shevchenko.

Ukraine dismisses security council secretary Danilov
There was no reason given for his dismissal at the time of this publication.
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