Stanislav Yezhov, a key aide and interpreter for Ukraine Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman was arrested on Wednesday by his country’s state security service and is accused of treason.
The accused Russian spy was during the recent bilateral meeting between Justin Trudeau and Ukraine Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman.
He was in the room for a number of high-level meetings in Ottawa, including private sessions with Trudeau and Gov. Gen. Julie Payette.He also interpreted an interview Groysman conducted with CBC News as part of his official visit, which included testimony before the House of Commons foreign affairs committee.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who is of Ukrainian heritage, was in Kyiv on Thursday as the scandal unfolded.
Given the timing of the visit on Oct. 31, the case raises serious questions for the Canadian and Ukrainian governments, said a security and intelligence expert.
Phil Gurski said,”Him standing behind the prime minister’s desk is a little worrisome, depending on what was on his desk at the time.At this point, the major concern that I would have is — what was spoken? What was said on a bilateral basis between Canada and Ukraine that is now in the hands of the Russians?”
Groysma said the two countries discussed the issue of adding Ukraine to the list of countries where Canadian arms manufacturers can sell weapons and about Trudeau using the upcoming chairmanship of the G7 to focus attention on the war-torn eastern European country.
The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said Thursday it had opened a treason case, but not yet laid charges against the interpreter, who was allegedly recruited by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).
A statement by the SBU accused Yezhov of collecting “data on the activities of governmental institutions by means of special equipment.”
He allegedly passed information to his Russian contacts “through electronic communication channels.”
Gurski said that is significant and something Canadian officials, particularly Freeland, should follow up on immediately.