Ukraine’s leader accuses Russia-backed coup of planned next week
KYIV, UKRAINE – Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced on Friday that his country’s intelligence services have discovered plans for a Russian-backed coup next week, which is allegedly linked to KYIV, UKRAINE. one of the richest oligarchs in Ukraine.
Both the tycoon and the Russian government have denied the allegations.
At a news conference in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, Zelenskyy said he had received information that a coup was being planned for next Wednesday or Thursday.
He did not give many details to support his allegations, but pointed to the suspected role of Ukraine’s richest financier, Rinat Akhmetov.
The president said that Ukrainian intelligence has tapes of an alleged meeting between Russian and Ukrainian officials discussing plans for a coup allegedly sponsored by Akhmetov, assets estimated at 7, 5 billion USD.
Zelenskyy declined to reveal more details about the alleged coup, saying only that he has no plans to flee the country.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied the allegation in comments to journalists in Moscow on Friday.
“Russia has no plans to participate,” Peskov said. “Russia never does such things.”
Akhmetov called Zelenskyy’s allegations “an absolute lie.” Akhmetov’s spokeswoman Anna Terekhova said: “I am deeply outraged by the spread of this lie, regardless of the President’s motives.”
Asked about the alleged coup plans, the US State Department’s top official for European and Eurasian affairs, Karen Donfried, said: “We are in contact with the Ukrainian government to discuss We’re discussing this further and we’re working to get more information.”
Volodymyr Fesenko, a Kyiv-based political analyst and head of the Penta Center think tank, told AP that Zelenskyy targeted Akhmetov after a “proper information war” waged against the president over the past two months on television channels owned by the tycoon.
A large rally in front of the presidential office is also being planned for December 1.
The analyst points to major discontent among Ukrainian oligarchs, including Akhmetov, over a law promoted by Zelenskyy that limits their influence over politics.
Fesenko called Zelenskyy’s mention of Akhmetov in connection with the alleged coup “a warning signal” that the oligarch should not engage in “risky political ventures that cross ‘red lines’.” and negotiate with Moscow.”
In recent weeks, Ukrainian and Western officials have expressed concern that Russia’s military build-up near Ukraine could signal Moscow’s plans to invade its former Soviet neighbor. The Kremlin insists it has no such intention and accuses Ukraine and its Western supporters of making statements intended to cover up their own alleged aggressive designs.
Zelenskyy said Ukraine has full control of its borders and is ready for any escalation of the conflict with Russia. But he noted that the media is worried about the possibility of such a conflict.
He also said that the head of his office, Andriy Yermak, would soon be in contact with Russian authorities at the request of European Council President Charles Michel and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“They want contacts between our administration and the Russian authorities. I think Yermak will contact them in the near future. We have absolutely no objection to this,” Zelenskyy said.
Associated Press National Security Writer Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this report.