Vasyl Malyuk and Ihor Klymenko: what you should know about the newly-appointed head of the SBU and Minister of Internal Affairs

14 February, 03:52 PM
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Before that, Vasyl Malyuk and Ihor Klymenko were the heads of the SBU and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, respectively (Photo:NV collage, photos of the press services of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the SBU)

Before that, Vasyl Malyuk and Ihor Klymenko were the heads of the SBU and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, respectively (Photo:NV collage, photos of the press services of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the SBU)

On Feb. 7, Ihor Klymenko officially replaced the late Denis Monastyrsky as Minister of Internal Affairs, and Vasyl Malyuk was appointed head of the Security Service of Ukraine.

Both had been working in their positions in acting status for some time now, but on Feb. 6, the Rada registered Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal’s submission on the appointment of Ihor Klymenko as Interior Minister. In addition President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, submitted a proposal yesterday to permanently appoint acting SBU head Vasyl Malyuk to his post.

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On February 7, the relevant parliamentary committees approved the candidacies of Malyuk and Klymenko to fill the positions, followed by the official ratification of the postings.

NV explains at what you need to know about Malyuk and Klymenko.

Vasyl Malyuk: head of the SBU

Vasyl Malyuk has led the SBU as acting head since July 18, 2022, when President Volodymyr Zelenskyy relieved the previous head of the SBU, Ivan Bakanov, of his duties. Prior to that, Malyuk worked as the first deputy head of the service.

Vasyl Malyuk is from Korostyshev, Zhytomyr Oblast, and is 39 years old.

He received his legal education at the National Academy of the Security Service of Ukraine with a degree in jurisprudence (2005). He subsequently received his JD.

Malyuk has been in military service in state security bodies since 2001. He worked in regional departments of the SBU, held positions from detective officer to deputy head of department, as well as head of the Directorate for Combatting Corruption and Organized Crime.

Malyuk has been working at the Central Directorate of the SBU for the last three years.

  • In January 2020, he assumed the post of First Deputy Head of the Main Directorate for Combating Corruption and Organized Crime;
  • In March 2020, he was appointed First Deputy of SBU head Ivan Bakanov and at the same time became the head of the Directorate for Combating Corruption and Organized Crime.

In July 2021, Malyuk was fired from high positions in the SBU at the same time as another of Bakanov’s deputies. At the time, the Office of the President voiced a number of claims to the Service.

“For the president, it is fundamental to significantly intensify the work of the SBU in order to finally put an end to all smuggling schemes,” presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said at the time.”

Unfortunately, we haven’t seen enough work by the Service in this direction lately. We need new management solutions. Greater mobility and speed in decision-making are necessary. We need, finally, criminal cases brought to their logical conclusion, in which we are talking about specific challenges to our national security.”

The Anti-Corruption Action Center also noted in the summer of 2021 that the department of the SBU, which at that time was headed by Vasyl Malyuk, was supposed to be folded as a result of the reform of the security service.

On February 16, 2022, a few days before the full-scale Russian invasion, Vasyl Malyuk was named a deputy of Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky.

However, after the start of large-scale hostilities, he was again returned to the SBU: on February 28, Malyuk was dismissed from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and from March 2022 he was appointed first deputy chairman of the SBU.

Title and awards, participation in the ATO

At the end of March 2022, Vasyl Malyuk was awarded the rank of brigadier general.

After the initial Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014, he participated in the anti-terrorist operation (ATO, later JFO) [Ukraine’s formal name for the fight against Russian occupation and aggression in Donbas – ed], was a participant in hostilities, and was bestowed a number of awards:

  • badges of the SBU For Courage and For Valor;
  • the President’s Award For Participation in the Antiterrorist Operation
  • the highest departmental award of the SBU
  • a ceremonial award firearm

Appointment of Vasyl Malyuk as acting head of the SBU after the dismissal of Bakanov

After Zelenskyy unexpectedly removed Ivan Bakanov from his duties as head of the SBU on July 17, these functions were temporarily entrusted to Vasyl Malyuk. At the time, sources of Ukrainian news site Babel in the SBU and parliament described Malyuk as a person allegedly close to Oleh Tatarov, the deputy presidential chief-of-staff, who during the Euromaidan served as deputy head of the Main Investigative Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and publicly justified the actions of the security forces against the Maidan;s participants. Tatarov continues to work in the Office of the President, despite the disquiet after his appointment and an NABU investigation into the theft of apartments belonging to the National Guard, in which they tried to seek a notice of suspicion of bribery against Tatarov. Journalists from Ukrainska Pravda noted Malyuk as among the guests at a celebration of Tatarov's birthday in early September 2021, where more than ten officials from various law enforcement agencies were present.

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Over his half a year of work as the de facto head of the SBU, Vasyl Malyuk has engaged in less publicity than, for example, the head of another special service, the head of the Main Intelligence Directorate (HUR) of the Ministry of Defense, Kyrylo Budanov, who regularly gives interviews to foreign media.

On January 23, 2023, Malyuk and Budanov circulated a joint photo amid rumors of a misunderstanding between the special services after details emerged about the death of financier Denys Kireev. HUR called him a hero, while the SBU had previously considered him a traitor. Podolyak explained the death of Kireev as caused by a lack of coordination between law enforcement agencies at the beginning of the full-scale war. However, at the current stage, there are no disagreements between the SBU and the HUR, the heads of the special services insisted.

“Kyrylo Budanov and Vasyl Malyuk held a joint working meeting […]. The heads of the two departments are coordinating their actions […]. Rumors of an alleged misunderstanding between leaders are narratives from the enemy,” the departmental press services said on January 23.

In addition, Malyuk appeared in public during high-profile prisoner exchanges. Thus, on September 21, Malyuk, together with Deputy Head of HUR Dmitry Usov and Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets, met just-released fighters from Azov and other Ukrainian defenders in Chernihiv Oblast after the exchange of 215 Ukrainian prisoners - the largest since the beginning of the full-scale invasion.

In December 2022, Vasyl Malyuk was awarded the rank of major general.

Ihor Klymenko: Head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs

Ihor Klymenko has been acting Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine since January 18, 2023, when the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Denys Monastyrsky, along with other leaders from the Ministry, died in a helicopter crash in Brovary. Before the tragedy, Klymenko had been in charge of Ukraine’s National Police for more than two years, since September 2019, replacing Serhiy Knyazev in this post.

Ihor Klymenko was born on October 25, 1972 in Kyiv. In 1994, he graduated from Kharkiv Military University, after which he served in a missile unit until 1997.

He also earned a degree from Odesa State University in psychology, subsequently obtaining a doctorate in psychology (2019, legal psychology). In addition, he graduated from the Dnipropetrovsk State University of Internal Affairs with a master's degree in jurisprudence.

He has been serving in internal affairs bodies since 1998. He began his service as a psychologist at the Center for Practical Psychology of the Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Kharkiv Oblast.

He also participated in a peacekeeping operation in the territory of the former Yugoslavia in Kosovo.

He has the rank of police general third class, and was awarded a Defender of the Fatherland medal.

After the Revolution of Dignity, Klymenko took direct part in the anti-terrorist operation in Donbas, and as early as 2014 was appointed Deputy Head of the Human Resources Department of the National Police. He headed this department from 2015 to 2017.

Starting in October 2017, he served as Deputy Head of the National Police of Ukraine as Director of Personnel, and in March 2018, he became Deputy Head of the National Police of Ukraine.

During the years of his career in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Klymenko was one of the coordinators of reforming the National Police. With the beginning of the full-scale invasion, the police under his leadership also took on the task of establishing war crimes committed by Russia against Ukraine’s civilian population of Ukraine, from identifying the bodies of murdered Ukrainians to revealing the consequences of the shelling of cities.

Ihor Klymenko called the death of Denis Monastyrsky in the crash in Brovary "a colossal loss for relatives, friends, colleagues, the system of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the whole country."

He promised that the investigation into the tragedy would answer all questions about it and stressed that this would take time.

“Despite the internal devastation that we all feel, the leadership team of the Ministry of Internal Affairs is working confidently and steadily,” Klymenko declared upon his appointment as acting Minister in place of the late Monastyrsky.

“Our duty: to fulfill all the tasks planned by Minister Monastyrsky. And most importantly: to protect people and Ukraine. The Interior Ministry is working. The situation is under control.”

On February 2, Klymenko announced that the Ministry of Internal Affairs had begun to form assault brigades to liberate captured Ukrainian territories and strengthen the defense forces.

According to him, the first goal of the units is to liberate Ukrainian territories and reach the internationally-recognized borders of Ukraine. “The decision to create assault brigades was made by our personnel, who have great fury to defeat the enemy,” Klymenko explained.

“Many of our servicemen who have defended and continue to defend our country came out with the initiative to recruit people into such units. Therefore, it was decided that everyone who wants to, who is a patriot, who has lost his home or relatives because of the war, should be united in these brigades.”

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