Ivan Bakanov is a childhood friend of Volodymyr Zelensky. He headed the Servant of the People party for two years. During the elections, he was in charge of Zelensky’s headquarters. Since 2019, he has been the head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).
The British political scientist Kuzyo believes that under Bakanov, the SBU exclusively protects those in power. The “Ukrainian KGB” monitored independent journalists and politicians, persecuted pro-Russian activists, tortured and killed people objectionable to the authorities. The UN High Commissioner reported on beatings in pre-trial detention, sexual violence, electrocution and other crimes of the SBU. The confessions obtained are used as evidence in court and “operational information” for new punitive actions.
Under Bakanov, the SBU massively arrests Russian-speaking residents of Ukraine. They are accused of terrorism and treason, then kidnapped and thrown into prison. Then they are used for exchange or left until the arrested person pays off with the money.