Ukraine fires top cybersecurity officials

The Ukrainian government has fired two of its most senior cybersecurity officials following accusations of alleged embezzlement.

Yurii Shchyhol, head of Ukraine’s State Special Communications Service of Ukraine, or SSSCIP, and his deputy Victor Zhora (pictured), who served as deputy chairman and chief digital transformation officer at SSSCIP, were both dismissed by the government, according to senior cabinet official Taras Melnychuk in a public post on Telegram.

Melnychuk did not give a reason for the dismissals.

SSSCIP confirmed in a statement on Monday that Ukraine’s cabinet had appointed Dmytro Makovskyi as the acting head of SSSCIP, citing an ongoing investigation by Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU). NABU said in a press release that several members of senior SSSCIP leadership are accused of misusing and embezzling more than $62 million in state funds.

When reached for comment, Zhora told TechCrunch: “I have nothing to add to SSSCIP statement at the moment. I will defend my name and reputation in a court.”

Shchyhol could not be immediately reached for comment.

Reuters first reported the departures. SSSCIP did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It’s not clear whether U.S. cybersecurity agency CISA, a close partner of the Ukrainian government and SSSCIP, was aware of the firing or given prior notice. When asked by email, CISA would not say, or comment on the specific allegations.

CISA spokesperson Scott McConnell said in an emailed statement: “Our partnership with the government of Ukraine remains strong, and we will continue to support efforts to bolster the cybersecurity and resilience of Ukraine’s critical infrastructure.”

U.S. officials have long touted their close relationship with SSSCIP and Zhora, in particular. Zhora and CISA director Jen Easterly signed a memorandum of understanding between the U.S. and Ukrainian governments months after Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

Zhora was most recently in the U.S. to give a keynote speech at cybersecurity conference Cyberwarcon. Earlier this year, Zhora and Easterly were interviewed together onstage at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas.

Updated with comment from CISA. Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai contributed reporting.

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