The head of the Main Intelligence Directorate, Kirill Budanov, said in an exclusive interview with Radio Liberty that intelligence officer Denis Kireev, whom the Security Service of Ukraine called a traitor, was killed in an SBU car.
Our publication has detailed about the investigation “The Wall Street Journal”. The publication writes that 45-year-old banker Denis Kireev was killed as a Russian spy: Ukrainian special services left his corpse with a bullet hole in the back of his head on the sidewalk in the center of Kyiv a few days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
AT interview Radio Liberty, the head of the GUR, Kirill Budanov, spoke about his vision of events, as far as possible without violating the secrecy of information at this stage – the investigation is being conducted by the State Bureau of Investigation. He said that Kireev was killed in an SBU car:
“I, as the head of the intelligence service, am sure that the person who was our employee was not a spy. Firstly, this is. Secondly, I personally know Mr. Kireev since 2009. This is just for you to understand. Further. He is quite a lot cooperated with all the former heads of our structure for years… I share the opinion and believe the facts that Mr. Kireev was killed in the car of the SBU when they held an event against this person. This fact is recorded, it is in the materials of the investigation. Everything else is an investigation is in charge of the State Bureau of Investigation. I have no right to comment on this information. The fact that he was killed in this car by employees is a fact.”
Budanov also said that he did not expect such actions by the Security Service against a regular intelligence officer. He said that he talked about Kireev with the head of the SBU at the time, Ivan Bakanov, and he “couldn’t really explain anything.” According to Budanov, this was their last conversation. Direct speech of the head of intelligence:
“I believe that the case is much deeper. However, I will keep my opinion to myself. Let’s evaluate only the facts. The facts are: a person who was traveling at the invitation of the SBU to the SBU building, 200 meters before reaching the building, is intercepted, taken a little further, than in this building, and the corpse is thrown out into the street. Here are the facts. That’s it.”
He could not say whether the people involved in this are still working in the SBU, as the investigation is ongoing. However, the head of the GUR noted that Kireev was a closed employee of the department and had connections “with a lot of people around the world.”
Radio Liberty talked to Kirill Budanov three days after the WSJ wrote about Denis Kireev. The publication said that it was Kireev who warned the Ukrainian leadership in detail about Putin’s plans to attack Kyiv on February 24. According to the WSJ, when Kireev was on his way to the second negotiating meeting in Belarus, he was killed by SBU officers on the way, believing Kireev to be a Russian agent. Later, the adviser to the head of the OP, Mikhail Podolyak, said that Kireev was killed due to a lack of coordination between the Main Intelligence Directorate and the SBU.
Exclusive interview given to Radio Liberty by the head of the GUR, Kirill Budanov:
– Mikhail Podolyak, adviser to the head of the President’s Office, is so far the only representative of the current government who has commented on the murder of Denis Kireev. He said that this is a consequence of poor coordination between the GUR and the SBU. Can you confirm this?
– I would say a little differently, but I will not comment on the opinion of Mr. Podolyak. However, I will draw your attention to the fact that in the same comment he said another interesting thing. When asked whether Kireev was a Russian spy: definitely not, he was not. This is perhaps the only thing I will comment on.
“Why are you so sure you didn’t?” Maybe he was a double agent?
– This is a rather strange question. I, as the head of the intelligence service, am sure that the person who was our employee was not a spy. This is first. Secondly, I personally know Mr. Kireev since 2009. This is just for you to understand. Farther. For many years he collaborated with all the former leaders of our structure. When I was still a young officer, I saw him there for the first time in my life. And weighty, in my opinion, my argument will be that he passed all the checks here, including the lie detector. This is also documented, recorded and everything is here in the archives.
– From the publication of The Wall Street Journal it follows that he was killed by the SBU. Do you share this version?
– I share the opinion and believe the facts that Mr. Kireev was killed in the SBU car when they (the SBU officers) held an event on this person. This fact is recorded, it is in the materials of the investigation. Everything else is being investigated by the State Bureau of Investigation. I have no right to comment on this information. The fact that employees killed him in this car is a fact.
– According to you, Denis Kireev is a hero. You said that he played a key role in informing about Putin’s plans. From what you just said, it turns out that the SBU officers killed the Ukrainian hero?
– It is absolutely true.
– How could this happen?
– Sorry, but sometimes such terrible cases have already happened. Not as scary as this one. But there have been problems before.
– It turns out that the state, represented by the GUR, could not protect its agent?
– This is not an agent, but a staff member. This is the first.
– Staff member…
– Absolutely not. Because no one expected such a reaction from those people who did it. After all, we are not engaged in protecting our own forces and means, say, from the police, NABU or SBU. This is nonsense! Do you understand? Kireev told his bodyguards: these are SBU officers, they want to ask me something. And when a car drove up, from which Alfa fighters and employees of the OKR (Counterintelligence Department of the SBU) jumped out and were told to get into this car, Mr. Kireev himself told his guards, the officers accompanying him, and he was accompanied by two more employees of the Internal Security Department of ours, that it’s calm, these are SBU employees, they want to ask me something.
– Mr. Budanov, then the SBU was headed by Ivan Bakanov. There is also information, this was mentioned in the investigation of Channel 5 (I cannot call this channel an independent media), however, 10 days before the invasion, there was material published where it was said that Kireev was on friendly terms with Mr Bakanov.
– This is not entirely true. Kireev was a closed employee, he had connections with many people around the world. Of course, he had some communication with the person you mentioned. Direct or indirect – I will not answer this question. But the possibility of such communication existed.
– But it turns out that the SBU officers were developing some kind of plan regarding Kireev, they may have considered him a Russian agent and tried to carry out some kind of special operation on him, and overfulfilled their powers, to put it mildly?
– He was called, he left my office there. Why was he traveling, including accompanied by two internal security officers? Because this is a service responsible, in particular, for aspects of interaction with other bodies. Why didn’t they leave for the SBU building? Let the investigation answer this question. Approximately 200 meters from the central building of the SBU (he was driving there), a bus drove out, that is, it just broke into the oncoming lane, Alfa employees ran out shouting “This is the SBU!”, operatives came out, they said that they were from the SBU. It was the detention in this form. Kireev told everyone to stop. Then he was transferred to a minibus, which did not go to this central building, but after several blocks. Then what happened happened… And his body fell out of that van. Here are the facts.
– It turns out that he was extrajudicially executed by the SBU.
– Draw your own conclusions.
– Tell me, please, and then you had a personal conversation with Ivan Bakanov about this incident?
– Of course he did. This was my last conversation with him.
And how did he explain it to you?
– No way.
– Not at all?
He couldn’t really explain anything.
– And what do you think, is it still a failure of communication and coordination between the authorities, or just someone wanted to settle some accounts with Kireev?
“I think it goes much deeper than that. However, I will keep my opinion to myself. Let’s evaluate only the facts: a person who was driving at the invitation of the SBU to the building of the SBU, 200 meters before reaching the building, is intercepted, taken a little further than to this building, and the corpse is thrown into the street. Here are the facts. Everybody.
– Do you remember, on March 5, Ukrayinska Pravda published news with a reference to law enforcement agencies that the SBU had liquidated a Russian agent during the arrest. You remember?
– Of course I remember. I remember very well. This is an attempt to defend. What’s incomprehensible here?
Who was trying to protect whom?
– The people who did it.
– And these people who did it, where are they now?
“Again, the investigation is underway. It is carried out by the GBR. Please, all questions to them. I dare not comment on such information.
– Do you know if these people still work in the SBU?
– I know. However, I tell you again: I refuse to comment on this.
– Mr. Budanov, what was the role of Kireev in the negotiations in Gomel?
– What is the role? I sent him there. And for the first time, and the second – he had to get on the train immediately after he was supposed to visit the SBU.
– What for? What was the purpose of sending him there?
– Since the person has already died, we can talk about it: the main task that we set for him is to drag out the process in order to gain time. Since Kireev personally knew two people from that negotiation process who represented the Russian side.
– Do you think that the one who killed Kireev had the goal of either disrupting these negotiations, or, thus, weakening the position of Ukraine in these negotiations by eliminating Kireev?
– I can express absolutely my subjective opinion. Once again, I want to emphasize this: the one who deliberately did this had the goal of preventing us from interfering in someone else’s game and dragging out this process in order to allow our Armed Forces, let’s say, to take certain actions to repulse the enemy. If you remember these events, then the situation was close to critical. I think you should remember this well. And there was a certain number of people who, let’s say, did not really want Ukraine to win. It’s my personal opinion. I emphasize again.
– These people you are talking about, are they from Ukraine, from the Ukrainian side?
– First of all, from the Ukrainian side. This is first of all.
You said that you don’t want to say much now. The ball is on the side of the GBR…
– I don’t want to. I don’t have the right to do this. Firstly, as an official, secondly, as an officer, and thirdly, this is fundamentally incorrect. Excuse me, you are still a journalist, not an investigative body.
But do you personally know these people?
“I know very well all these people who executed him.
– In recent days, I have had several conversations with different people who are involved in the SBU and intelligence – in the past and now. And they told me that Kirill Budanov now wants to shed light on this story for a reason, when he begins to comment and talk about Kireev. What is your motivation for talking about it?
“My motivation is very simple. I am now forced to comment on all this, including communicating with you, because a serious information wave has begun and a very serious wave of opposition has begun. With opposition, I, in principle, got used to living. It doesn’t make my life sad, as they say. However, I will not allow anyone to insult the memory of our hero! That’s all.
– In the summer, Vladimir Zelensky removed Ivan Bakanov with such wording that his actions could lead to death of people. Was it about Kireev?
“I don’t know what exactly the President had in mind. I cannot comment on the statements of officials, and even more so the first person of the state.