From early evening on Monday 29 the specter of resignation once again materialized on the pages of Ukraine’s media as speculation became rife that the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Gen. Valery Zaluzhny had/was about to/would soon be fired.
Once again Kyiv Post has had to investigate how another information bubble that shook Ukraine’s media landscape appeared, was spread, and was, ultimately, dissolved – for now at least.
The story about Zaluzhny’s dismissal began this time with a post on Facebook and the Bereza Telegram channel, written by a former People's Deputy and well-known public figure and political commentator, Boryslav Bereza.
He wrote: “The information is confirmed. Zelensky has removed Chief Commissar Zaluzhny. Today is a holiday in Moscow...”
Later he posted an “expanded explanation” on Telegram along with a more emotional message:
“Zaluzhny refused the offer to head the NSDC or become an ambassador. He is a military man. He is not interested in positions. And now the G-7 ambassadors are calling the President's Office and are wondering [what’s going on] if they ate at Bankova. We are waiting for the Presidential Decree. They cannot drag on forever.”
He added: “By the way, Budanov [chief of the military intelligence directorate] and Syrsky [Commander of ground forces] are refusing the position of Commander-in-Chief. And I wonder if they will be convinced, or if they will look for new candidates?”
Bereza’s comments were echoed by a well-known journalist, Roman Tsymbalyuk, who said in a Facebook post: “We have a new commander-in-chief. The President of Ukraine appointed Kyrylo Budanov instead of Valery Zaluzhny.”
However, he later deleted his post but noted the absence of an official announcement of the resignation did not mean there were no such intentions
A little later, Oleksy Honcharenko, a current People's Deputy, posted his reaction to the rumors about Zaluzhny’s “resignation” on Telegram saying: “I cannot confirm about Zaluzhny, but I’m checking.”
Thirty minutes later, presumably after consulting with “his sources” he posted: “Two sources told me yes. But I still doubt it. Stop before it's too late.”
He then added eight minutes later that: “Zaluzhny announced his resignation, but there is no decree yet. He was offered the position of ambassador to one of the European countries. He refused.”
"TRUHA Ukraine" – a Telegram news channel with a huge reach – also joined in on the information wave, also reporting that its “own sources” had confirmed the resignation of the Commander-in-Chief.
Rumors about Zaluzhny's dismissal were actively spread during the evening on the notorious anonymous Telegram channel, “JOKER,” who published a stream of messages giving its take on the Zaluzhny situation:
19:14: They told me that Zaluzhny was fired. But I f***ing can't believe it.
19:23: “Everyone received information about the dismissal of Valery Zaluzhny from trusted sources, including Zaluzhny’s close circle, I personally received information about Zaluzhny’s dismissal from two of his closest people.”
19:30: “There will be an address from the President soon.”
19:35: “I can already officially say. Valery Zaluzhny was fired.”
The Censor.NET also joined in the free-for-all saying that Zelensky signed the decree on the release of Zaluzhny, quoting its “own sources.”
Around this time, one of the leading Ukrainian media sites, Ukrainska Pravda, published a message on its Telegram channel, suggesting that replacing Zaluzhny was being considered but that no decree had yet been signed and which did not provide any further clarity on the situation.
Faced with this unprecedented rapid spread of information that could seriously impact the war and the Ukrainian people the Telegram channel of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine seemed like “business as usual” with the response: “Dear journalists, we immediately answer everyone: No, this is not true.”
About two hours after the rumors appeared, Ukrainska Pravda and Suspilne managed to get an official comment from Zelensky's press secretary Serhiy Nikiforov, who, when asked if the president had fired Zaluzhny, replied: “Absolutely not. The President did not fire the Commander-in-Chief.”
On its X (formerly Twitter) feed Suspilne quoted Nikiforov as saying: “There is no topic of conversation, there was no dismissal, I can't say anything more.”
However, later, almost at midnight, the influential media Mirror of the Week (ZN,UA) with reference to “sources” in the Office of the President and Zaluzhny's entourage reported that Zelensky and Zaluzhny met to discuss the issue of his resignation.
According to the media site, the President offered to write a report on Zaluzhny’s dismissal, but did not offer him another another significant position.
Predictably, Ukrainians on Facebook reacted with jokes and memes, one of the main culprits being People's Deputy Mariana Bezuhla, who at the end of last year had repeatedly criticized Zaluzhny publicly and called for his resignation.
On Facebook she continued to reflect her poor opinion of Zaluzhny and his generals, which seemed to blame Ukraine’s problems on alcohol abuse by its military leaders.
Zaluzhny himself posted on his own Facebook channel on Monday night – a joint photo with Lt. Gen. Serhiy Shaptala; seeming to demonstrate to everyone that he is in place and the unity of his team should not be doubted.
Zelensky did not comment on the Zaluzhny rumors, neither in his nightly address nor on any of his social networks.
At the time of writing – Tuesday morning – there have been no official announcements about a change in the Commander-in-Chief's post.
So, for now, Gen. Zaluzhny remains in his place, and Kyiv Post will continue to monitor the situation and continue to inform you about this and the other most relevant events affecting Ukraine.
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