KYIV - Ukraine on Monday sacked two high-ranking cyber defence officials amid a probe into alleged embezzlement, a senior government official said.

Yurii Shchyhol, head of the State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection of Ukraine (SSSCIP), and his deputy, Viktor Zhora, were dismissed by the government, Cabinet chief Taras Melnychuk wrote on Telegram.

The firings coincided with an announcement by anti-corruption prosecutors that they were investigating officials in cyber defence positions over their alleged roles in a six-person plot to embezzle 62 million UAH ($1.72 million) in 2021.

Prosecutors did not identify either official by name. The SSSCIP did not immediately respond to a written request for comment.

Ukraine has stepped up efforts to curtail corruption as it pursues membership in the European Union, which has made the fight against graft a key prerequisite for negotiations to begin.

(Reporting by Dan Peleschuk, Editing by Bernadette Baum)