Ukraine opens criminal case after Zelensky warning of imminent ‘coup’
The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has launched an investigation after accusations by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that a group of people were planning a coup d’etat to take control of the government in Kiev.
In a statement, the SBU, the successor agency to the KGB, opened what it called a “pre-trial investigation” into the preparation by “certain citizens of Ukraine and Russia” to conduct “actions aimed at seizing state power.”
“The progress of the investigation will be reported later,” the statement concluded.
Last week, Zelensky said a coup was being planned for December 1-2, involving Ukraine’s richest businessman, Rinat Akhmetov. Speaking at a lengthy news conference, he also claimed Ukrainian intelligence had audio of the plotters mentioning his name for the plan that would cost $1 billion.
The accusations were immediately dismissed by Akhmetov, while the Kremlin denied any role in any coup plot.
Although he did not provide any evidence, the SBU will look into the matter. Akhmetov’s influential media holdings have recently become highly critical of Zelensky.
Following the press conference, Russian MP Viktor Vodolatsky claimed the president was getting on the wrong side of the people of Ukraine, who he said are no longer convinced by his lies and want him to deal with real problems.
“More nonsense, more fake news, more anti-Russian agenda, which is probably boring everybody,” said the MP, who sits on the parliamentary committee for CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration, and Relations with Compatriots.
In recent months, Zelensky has come under fire from several international observers amid a crackdown on critical media and the opposition. Earlier this year, Viktor Medvedchuk, the leader of the largest opposition party in the country’s parliament, was detained on charges of high treason, TV channels 112, NewsOne, and ZIK were blocked, and popular website Strana was banned.