Ukraine Pres:Russia Backed Coup Planned11/27 08:56
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) -- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday
claimed that his country's intelligence service has uncovered plans for a
Russia-backed coup d'etat in the country set for next week that allegedly
involves one of Ukraine's richest oligarchs.
Both the oligarch and the Russian government rejected the allegations. In
Nantucket, Massachusetts, where he is spending a holiday weekend, U.S.
President Joe Biden expressed concern at the coup talk and renewed U.S. support
for Ukraine's sovereignty and self-government.
At a news conference in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, Zelenskyy said he
received information that a coup was being planned for next Wednesday or
Thursday. He did not give many details to back up his allegation, but pointed
to a suspected role of Ukraine's richest oligarch, Rinat Akhmetov.
The president said that Ukrainian intelligence has audio recordings of an
alleged meeting between Russian and Ukrainian officials discussing a plan for a
coup allegedly funded by Akhmetov, whose fortune is estimated at $7.5 billion.
Zelenskyy refused to disclose further details about the alleged coup, saying
only that he doesn't plan to flee the country.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov rejected the allegations in comments to
journalists in Moscow on Friday.
"Russia had no plans to get involved," Peskov said. "Russia never does such
things at all."
Akhmetov called Zelenskyy's allegations "an absolute lie." "I am outraged by
the spread of this lie, no matter what the President's motives are," Akhmetov
said in a statement, relayed to the Associated Press by his spokeswoman Anna
Asked about the alleged coup plans, the U.S. State Department's top official
for European and Eurasian affairs, Karen Donfried, said: "We are in touch with
the Ukrainian government to discuss this further, and we're working to obtain
Biden told U.S. reporters he expected to talk to Putin and Zelenskyy, "in
Volodymyr Fesenko, a Kyiv-based political analyst and head of the Penta
Center think tank, told the AP that Zelenskyy targeted Akhmetov after a "proper
information war" was waged against the president over the last two months on TV
channels the oligarch owns.
A mass protest in front of the president's office is also being planned for
The analyst pointed to great discontent among Ukrainian oligarchs, including
Akhmetov, over a law pushed by Zelenskyy that limits their influence on
Fesenko called Zelenskyy's reference to Akhmetov in connection with the
alleged coup "a pre-emptive signal" for the oligarch not to get in involved in
"risky political ventures, cross the 'red lines' and negotiate with Moscow."
In recent weeks, Ukrainian and Western officials have expressed concern that
a Russian military buildup near Ukraine could signal plans by Moscow to invade
its ex-Soviet neighbor. The Kremlin insists it has no such intention and has
accused Ukraine and its Western backers of making the claims to cover up their
own allegedly 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 are engaged
in fearmongering over the possibility of such a conflict.
He also said that the head of his office, Andriy Yermak, will soon be in
contact with the Russian authorities at the request of the European Council
President Charles Michel and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
"They want contacts between our administration and the Russian
administration. I think that in the near future Yermak will contact them. We
are absolutely not against" this, Zelenskyy said.