Ukrainian president accuses group of planning coup for next week
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused a group of individuals of planning to stage a coup next week.
Zelensky warned of “internal challenges” facing Ukraine, beyond the growing tensions over Russia’s buildup of forces near the Ukrainian border.
“We have challenges not only from the Russian Federation and possible escalation – we have big internal challenges,” Zelenskiy said Friday, according to Reuters.
“I received information that a coup d’etat will take place in our country on Dec. 1-2,” the Ukrainian president added.
Zelensky told reporters at a press conference that authorities obtained audio recordings from the alleged plotters, The Washington Post reported.
The individuals, which included Russians and Ukrainians, reportedly discussed their plans while mentioning Rinat Akhmetov, the richest man in the country, as a person that could help with the plot.
Akhmetov, a coal and steel tycoon, has had tensions with Zelensky and his administration, though Zelensky said the businessman was not involved in the actually alleged plotting, the Post reported.
Zelensky earlier this year launched a “de-oligarchization” campaign in an effort to reduce the political power of the country’s richest people.
“I believe [Akhmetov] is being dragged into the war against Ukraine,” Zelensky said, according to the Post. “This will be a big mistake, because you cannot fight against your people.”
This comes as tensions between Russia and Ukraine have risen recently, amid growing fears that the long-running conflict between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists could erupt into open warfare.
The U.S. and NATO have voiced their concern about Russia building up forces near Ukraine’s border, though Russia has dismissed international pushback.