Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, who is struggling to contain a wave of street protests against his rule, replaced the head of national counter-intelligence and senior officials in two disaffected western regions.
In a series of decrees on Wednesday, he promoted Volodymyr Bik to head the Counter-Intelligence Department of the State Security Service, replacing Vasil Holyavitsky, replaced local heads of the State Security Service in Lviv and Volyn regions and dismissed the head of the regional administration of Volyn.
No immediate explanation was given. Western Ukraine, on the border with Poland and other European Union states, is a bastion of opposition to Yanukovich, whose power base is in the mainly Russian-speaking, industrial east of the country.
Along with Kiev, substantial demonstrations and takeovers of public buildings have taken place since November in other cities, notably in the west. The protests were prompted by Yanukovich's rejection of a free trade deal with the EU and his decision to accept economic support from Russia instead.