Ukraine parliament sacks head of state security service

President Petro PoroshenkoUkraine’s parliament Thursday fired the powerful head of the SBU state security service after he fell foul of President Petro Poroshenko and became embroiled in a conflict with the nation’s chief prosecutor.

“The Verkhovna Rada (parliament) supported my proposal to dimiss Valentyn Nalyvaychenko from his post as head of the SBU,” Poroshenko tweeted after 248 lawmakers in the 450-seat chamber supported the president’s formal request.

Ukraine’s State Security Service enjoys sweeping powers that it inherited from the domestic branch of the Soviet-era KGB.

The 49-year-old Nalyvaychenko was appointed three months before Poroshenko’s May 2014 presidential election and was never seen as a supporter of the Western-backed head of state.

Nalyvaychenko also headed the SBU in 2006-2010 and is believed to have gathered reams of data related to corrupt dealings of both past and present lawmakers and members of government.

His dismissal further highlights the fractured nature of Urkaine’s politics and its continued reliance on clan-style alliances and battles that critics say drain away attention from far more pressing concerns.

Ukraine’s 14-month war with pro-Russian insurgents still rages despite a February ceasefire and its economy continues to implode — the consequence of years of mismanagement and inability to pass overdue restructuring measures long sought by the International Monetary Fund.

Ukrainian media reports said Poroshenko had recently tried to move Nalyvaychenko — seen as a close political ally of former boxer and current Kiev mayor Vitaly Klitschko — to head the foreign intelligence service.

Nalyvaychenko is said to have refused and then launched a political counter-offensive that saw the prosecutor general’s office accused of covering up corruption and illegal money making schemes operated by its most senior personnel.

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