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Zelensky Says Russia-Backed Coup Was Planned Next Week

Ukraine leader says security services have recordings of officials discussing plot
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 26, 2021 9:48 AM CST
Ukraine Leader Accuses Russia of Backing Coup Plot
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is surrounded by servicemen as he visits the war-hit Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, on Oct. 14, 2021.   (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP, File)

(Newser) – Ukraine's president made some stunning allegations at a press conference Friday. Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukrainian intelligence had received information that a coup was being plotted for Wednesday or Thursday next week. He said security services had obtained recordings of Russian and Ukrainian officials discussing a coup and mentioning the possible involvement of Rinat Akhmetov, the country's richest oligarch, the AP reports. Zelensky said he believes Akhmetov is being "dragged into the war against Ukraine," which would be "a big mistake, because it is impossible to fight against the people, against the president elected by the people of Ukraine."

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In recent weeks, tensions have risen both between Moscow and Kyiv and between Zelensky and Akhmetov, whose media properties have been increasingly critical of the president, the Washington Post reports. At Friday's press conference, Zelensky also addressed the buildup of Russian troops along the border, which has caused fears of an imminent Russian invasion, reports Reuters. "We are in full control of our borders and are fully prepared for any escalation," the president said. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has said the US has "real concerns about Russia’s unusual military activity on the border."

Russia firmly denied any role in the alleged coup plot. "Russia had no plans to get involved," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, per the AP. "Russia never does such things at all," Peskov claimed, although Russia did annex Ukraine's Crimea region and has been supporting rebels in the east of the country for years. Zelensky said Friday that he would like Vladimir Putin to publicly declare that he is not planning an invasion, the Wall Street Journal reports. (Read more Ukraine stories.)

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