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UK says Moscow is plotting to install a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine


According to British assessment, Russian planners are considering installing a former member of Ukraine’s parliament named Yevgeniy Murayev to lead a pro-Kremlin puppet government in Kyiv. A former member of the Russia-backed Party of Regions, Mr. Murayev is now the head of a political party called Nashi, which belongs to a group of parties opposed to Ukraine’s pro-Western parties. Last September, a large banner with his photo was hung on the facade of the Union of Trade Unions building on Kyiv’s Independence Square with the slogan “This is our land”.

In a recent Facebook post, he accused the current government in Kyiv of selling out the US, which he said was inciting war hysteria to gain financial rewards from arms sales.

“The hawks are looking forward to a feast,” he wrote.

It is unclear from the British statement whether Russia informed Mr. Murayev that he was being viewed as a possible future leader of Ukraine. But after a journalist for a British newspaper tipped him off about the revelations, he posted a photo of himself on Facebook posing as James Bond with the comment, “More details tomorrow.”

Russian spies maintain extensive spy networks in Ukraine, and contacts between Ukrainian officials and intelligence officers are not uncommon, according to Ukrainian and Western security officials.

All four other Ukrainians named in the statement held senior positions in the Ukrainian government and worked closely with Paul Manafort, former President Donald J. Trump’s campaign manager, when he was. political advisor to the Russian-backed former president of Ukraine, Viktor F. Yanukovych. After Mr. Yanukovych’s government collapsed in 2014, they fled to Russia.

One of those named, Vladimir Sivkovich, was among four Ukrainians targeted last week with sanctions of the US Treasury Department because of their relationship with Russia’s efforts to destabilize Ukraine.

If the British assessment is correct, this would not be the first time the Kremlin has attempted to install a pro-Russian leader or interfere in the Ukrainian government. In 2004, Russia’s attempts to cheat a presidential election set off the so-called Orange Revolution, prompting the election to be replayed, leading to the defeat of Yanukovych, the Kremlin’s nominee. bias.



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