Ukraine probes listening device found in office used by top general

KYIV (Reuters) -Ukraine has launched a criminal probe after a listening device was found in an office that was set to be used by armed forces Commander-in-Chief Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, officials said.

Ukraine’s security service said on Sunday on the Telegram messaging app that an investigation had been opened under an article in Ukraine’s criminal code on “unlawful acquisition, sale, or use of special technical means for obtaining information”.

The General Staff said on Monday “listening devices” had been installed in offices intended for the work of the commander-in-chief and employees of his office.

Zaluzhnyi told Ukraine’s RBC media that he had used the office before, but not recently, and was supposed to work there again on Monday.

“(I regard this) as a war. Anything can happen. The investigation will prove what it was,” RBC quoted Zaluzhnyi on Monday.

He denied employees of the General Staff could have been involved in the installation. He also said he did not believe state secrets had been discussed in the office.

The security service added that the device – initially characterized as a bug by local media – was considered under preliminary information to be “in a non-operational state”, and no means of information storage or remote transmission of audio recordings were found.

“We emphasise that the device was found not directly in Valeriy Zaluzhnyi’s office but in one of the premises that could have been used by him in the future for work,” the service said.

Zaluzhnyi has been mentioned among possible targets for a reshuffle in top military ranks after a cooling in relations with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who has disagreed with his view of the conduct of the 21-month-old war against Russia.

In an essay published last month in The Economist, Zaluzhnyi wrote that the war was entering a stage of attrition that could benefit Moscow and allow it to rebuild its military power.

The president has disagreed with any notion the war was subject to a stalemate.

(Reporting by Oleksandr Kozhukhar in Kyiv and Elaine Monaghan in Washington, Yuliia Dysa in Gdansk; Editing by Alexander Smith and Toby Chopra)