Ukraine's ex-president accused of removing computer servers from 'situation room'

Petro Poroshenko paid for the rented equipment out of his own pocket and it had to be returned, a spokesman said.
Image: Ex-President Petro Poroshenko during inauguration of President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky in the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev
Ex-President Petro Poroshenko attends the inauguration of successor Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kiev on May 20.Maxym Marusenko/NurPhoto / Getty Images

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By Associated Press

KIEV, Ukraine — Less than two weeks after Ukraine's new president assumed office, his staff discovered that his predecessor had apparently gutted out key computer equipment in a meeting room when he left office.

Oleksandr Danylyuk, who was appointed chairman of the National Security and Defense Council on Tuesday, said all the equipment from the so-called "situation room," where the head of the state is supposed to be discussing urgent national security matters, is gone.

Danylyuk posted a video on Facebook, showing an empty room with power cables sticking out of the walls and marks showing where computer monitors used to be. He also claimed that former President Petro Poroshenko's staff had removed servers with confidential information.

"This is the situation room at the presidential administration, this is what it looks like now," he said in the video. "Everything was taken away during the handover of power. This is a civilized handover for you."

Danylyuk served as finance minister under Poroshenko for a year and a half until he was fired last year. He has accused Poroshenko and his government of stalling vital reforms needed to combat corruption.

Poroshenko's spokesman Svyatoslav Tsegolko insisted in a post on Facebook that all sensitive data is stored on the servers of Ukrainian intelligence and security agencies, not on servers in the situation room.

Tsegolko also said Poroshenko had paid for the equipment's rental out of his own pocket and that it had to be returned.

His comments caused a storm on Ukrainian social media, raising questions of how a country that is battling a separatist war can be so reckless as to rely on rented security equipment.

"It just happened that there was no money in the country to build a normal situation room," Dmytro Shymkiv, former deputy chief of staff under Poroshenko, said Wednesday.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy swears on a Bible as he takes the oath of office on May 20.Markiv Mykhailo / AP

Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a popular television comedian with no political experience, won a runoff presidential election against Poroshenko by a landslide last month.

Zelenskiy's popularity at polls reflected Ukrainians' disappointment with Poroshenko, criticized for failing to deliver to stop a separatist conflict in the east and stemming the country's endemic corruption.