Ukraine’s president has said he has received intelligence about a Russian-backed plan to overthrow his administration next week.
“We have received information that there will be a coup d’état in our country,” Volodymyr Zelensky said at a news briefing on Friday. He specified December 1 or 2 as potential dates.
Zelensky made the comments in response to questions from journalists about whether he feared Russia could be plotting a deeper invasion of the country, following its 2014 annexation of the Crimea region and fomenting of a proxy separatist war in the far eastern Donbas province.
Zelensky also linked the alleged plot to attempts by “unnamed conspirators” to exploit the media clout of Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov. The president stopped short of accusing him of direct involvement, but he claimed recordings exist that may implicate the oligarch.
“This is not only intelligence information, but also sound information, where representatives from Ukraine, so to speak, discuss the participation of Rinat Akhmetov in the coup d’état in Ukraine with representatives of Russia,” he said.
“I think he [Akhmetov] may not know about it,” Zelensky added. “I invite Rinat Akhmetov to [my office] to listen to the information that can be shared.”
There was no immediate comment from Akhmetov, a billionaire steel and energy tycoon whose television channels have in recent weeks switched from friendly coverage to harsh criticism of the president.
The Kremlin denied any involvement in the alleged coup plot. Dmitry Peskov, president Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, told reporters Russia had “no plans to participate” and “never does things like this,” according to Interfax.