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The Ukrainian president said he had received information about a Russian-backed plan to overthrow his administration next week.
“We have received information that there will be a coup in our country,” Volodymyr Zelensky said at a press conference on Friday. He specified December 1 or 2 as potential dates.
Zelensky made the comments in response to questions from reporters on whether he feared Russia was planning a deeper invasion of the country, following its 2014 annexation of the Crimea region and fomenting a separatist proxy war in the far eastern province of Donbass.
Zelensky also linked the alleged plot to attempts by “anonymous conspirators” to exploit the media influence of Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov. The president refrained from accusing him of direct involvement, but claimed that there were recordings that could implicate the oligarch.
“This is not only intelligence information, but also solid information, where representatives of Ukraine, so to speak, discuss Rinat Akhmetov’s participation in the coup in Ukraine with representatives of Russia.” , did he declare.
“I think that he [Akhmetov] maybe not aware, ”Zelensky added. “I invite Rinat Akhmetov to [my office] to listen to information that can be shared.
There was no immediate comment from Akhmetov, a billionaire steel and energy mogul whose TV stations have in recent weeks gone from friendly coverage to harsh criticism of the president.
The Kremlin has denied any involvement in the alleged plot. Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, told reporters that Russia “does not intend to participate” and “never does things like that”, according to Interfax.