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The Foreign Intelligence Service (FIS) of Ukraine has refuted the information regarding its leadership, which was previously provided to the UNIAN news agency.

The report published on the official website of the service says the FIS allegedly did not provide a comment to UNIAN that two first deputies had been authorized to co-chair the agency until a new chief was appointed by the president of Ukraine.

At the same time, at about 10:00 on March 15, a telephone conversation took place between an UNIAN correspondent and the press service of the FIS, which was recorded on a dictaphone.

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During the conversation, answering the question of whether someone would perform the duties of the chairman of the service until the relevant presidential decree appointing the chairman of the Foreign Intelligence Service was issued, a person who introduced himself as the service's press officer said: "We have two first deputies, they are authorized to serve as chairmen of the service in their respective areas."

"As for the leadership of the service, it is in place. There are two first deputies who are authorized to serve as chairmen of the service in their respective areas," the press officer repeated.

Answering the clarifying question of the correspondent whether two first deputies, Andrii Alieksieienko and Serhiy Semochko, have equal rights, the representative of the service said: "Yes."

UNIAN assumes such an unexpected report on the official website of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine regarding the refutation of the previously provided information is associated with an ambiguous perception of Serhiy Semochko's personality in the society.

As UNIAN reported earlier, investigative journalists established facts that may prove Semochko's ties with Russia via his family members and the "aggressor state might have paid this official for information from him." Nashi Groshi journalists found evidence that Semochko owns real estate worth over UAH 200 million (US$7.4 million), while his family members, namely his common-law wife and her daughter, have Russian citizenship and run a business in Russian-occupied Crimea. What is more, while Semochko was in office, counterintelligence officers demanded bribes from pharmaceutical companies.

A pretrial investigation was launched on the basis of the facts and an investigator requested access to mobile billing records of the suspect, who is charged with treason, and his relatives.

On October 3, 2018, the National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) opened a criminal case under Part 3 of Article 368-2 (illegal enrichment) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

On December 16, 2018, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he would decide on Semochko's dismissal after the counterintelligence department of the SBU Security Service of Ukraine completed its investigation.

On January 24, 2019, the then head of Ukraine's Foreign Intelligence Service Yehor Bozhok told a Ukrainian media outlet that Semochko was denied access to state secrets.

On March 14, 2019, Poroshenko dismissed Bozhok from the post he had held since September 2017.