Politician named by Britain as future Ukrainian leader responds to claims
Evgeniy Murayev, a Ukrainian politician whom the British government has accused of conspiring with Moscow to take over the country in the event of a full-blown invasion, has called the allegation an “absurd but very damaging fantasy,” and said he will take legal action.
Speaking to London’s The Independent this weekend, Murayev said that UK authorities had not presented any evidence to support their accusation, and that he was prepared to travel to Britain to take legal action to defend his name, and to publicly debate the claim with British ministers.
The former MP, who also owns media assets in Ukraine, told the newspaper that when he first got wind of the allegation, he thought it was “fake news.”
“But I woke up in the morning to discover that I am now supposedly the man who would be leading a Ukrainian government after a Russian invasion,” he went on. “This raises lots of questions. Will I still remain sanctioned by Russia while leading their government in Kiev? Will I get to meet Mr Putin, who I have never met in my life? Or will I get arrested if I arrive in Moscow while still under sanctions?”
“This is all fantasy of course,” Murayev continued. “But it is dangerous and divisive when people are trying hard to prevent a war. Personally these accusations have led to hundreds of threats on social media against my life and that of my family.”
The politician said he did not know why Britain had made the accusations, but speculated that the Foreign Office had been given “misinformation by some elements in Ukraine.” Murayev has been known for his criticism of current Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, and has appeared on his own television networks to speak out against the current government. In 2019, he failed to earn a seat in parliament when his party didn’t pass the 5% nationwide vote threshold.
RT published the bombshell allegations from British officials on Saturday, citing a leaked memo in which London accused the Kremlin of plotting to install Murayev or another supposedly Russia-friendly leader as the head of a new government in Kiev. The allegations are said to be based on declassified intelligence and authorities did not provide details on the source of the information or how they thought Russia was plotting to carry out the plan.
Moscow’s Foreign Ministry has since responded, accusing the UK of “spreading nonsense” and exacerbating difficulties in Ukraine. “The disinformation spread by the UK Foreign Office is yet more evidence that it is NATO countries, foremost the Anglo-Saxons, who are escalating tensions around Ukraine,” the ministry wrote in a statement.
Ukrainian and Western leaders have been warning for months that they fear Russia is planning an imminent invasion of its neighbor, which the Kremlin has repeatedly denied. Moscow, meanwhile, has asked for written security guarantees, including promises that NATO, the US-led military bloc, will not expand into Ukraine, and has threatened unspecified “military-technical measures” if its demands are not met.