SBU official suspected of treason may request asylum from Russia

31 August, 01:47 AM
Ексгенерал СБУ Андрій Наумов підозрюється у держзраді (Photo:Схеми / RFE/RL)

Ексгенерал СБУ Андрій Наумов підозрюється у держзраді (Photo:Схеми / RFE/RL)

Andriy Naumov, a former general with Ukraine’s SBU security service, may receive asylum in Russia following his detention in Serbia, Russian independent news outlet The Insider reported on Aug. 30.

Naumov is suspected of treason for allegedly providing the enemy with information about the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone.

On June 7, Naumov, the former head of the Main Directorate of Internal Security at the SBU, was detained in Serbia for smuggling undeclared valuables. He faces up to 12 years in prison, and may be extradited to Ukraine, considering Ukraine’s official charges of treason against him.

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However, according to The Insider, Russia is ready to provide asylum to Naumov in exchange for testimony against Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a sham “trial.”

The Insider writes that the former SBU official will one expected to confirm Russian propaganda narratives about the "genocide of the civilian population of Donbas on Zelenskyy’s orders.” This narrative is false.

According to Serbian media, Serbian Minister of Internal Affairs, Aleksandar Vulin, is handling the transfer of Andriy Naumov to Russia. On Aug. 23, he met in Moscow with the Secretary of the Security Council of Russia, Nikolai Patrushev. The official report on the meeting doesn’t mention the fate of Andryi Naumov, but according to The Insider’s sources, this issue was discussed.

Fleeing the country a few hours before the full-scale invasion: What do we know about ex-SBU general Naumov?

Andriy Naumov headed the Main Department of Internal Security of the SBU from summer 2019to July 2021. Prior to that, he was the head of the state-owned enterprise Center for Organizational, Technical, and Information Support for the Management of the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone. Through his activities, he could have known and collected classified information about the security systems of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant.

Naumov joined the SBU after Ivan Bakanov became the head of the agency in 2019. In the media, Naumov was even called "Bakanov's purse."

During his service in the SBU, Naumov became a suspect in a number of journalistic investigations covering smuggling and corruption in Ukrainian customs agencies. In particular, Ukrainian journalists have repeatedly connected him with Alexander Akst, known in Ukraine as the “king of smuggling”, who had been operating under the control of patrons from the SBU.

Naumov is believed to have fled Ukraine in a rush, just a few hours before the start of the full-scale Russian invasion on Feb. 24. According to The Insider, after fleeing Ukraine, he lived in Germany for several months.

On June 7, Naumov was detained in Serbia while trying to cross the border with North Macedonia. Alexander Akst was also present in the car.

According to the Serbian government, border enforcement discovered EUR 600,000 in cash, an unspecified amount in U.S. dollars, and gems, including diamonds, in the car.

After being detained in Serbia, Naumov and Akst were placed in a pre-trial detention center in the city of Niš. According to Serbian laws, Naumov faces up to 12 years in prison for smuggling undeclared valuables. Ukrainian newspaper Obrozevatel, citing its own sources, discovered that Naumov had prepared the money to bribe Serbian officials in order to avoid extradition to his homeland.

In Ukraine, Naumov is suspected of high treason (Article 111 of the Criminal Code). Criminal proceedings are handled by the State Bureau of Investigation.

The SBI believes Naumov had passed along information pertaining to Chornobyl security systems to the Russians.

This may have assisted the Russian invaders to quickly capture the Chornobyl nuclear power plant and approach Kyiv from the north during the first phase of the invasion.

In early March, Naumov's house was searched in connection with this case.

On March 31, President Zelenskyy announced that two Ukrainian generals, including Naumov, had been accused of high treason and stripped of their ranks. The other was the ex-head of the SBU in Kherson Oblast, Serhiy Krivoruchko.

In July, Bakanov was fired from his post as the head of the SBU, for reasons the presidential administration claims was incompetence in discovering a large number of collaborators in the ranks of the SBU.

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