July 19, 2024

Brighton Journal

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Coup attempt foiled in Ukraine, security services say, as Orban arrives in Kiev for talks

Coup attempt foiled in Ukraine, security services say, as Orban arrives in Kiev for talks

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s security services said Monday they had foiled a coup attempt that would have “played into Russia’s hands” while his Ukrainian forces were fighting Russian forces in the country’s east.

News of the plot emerged ahead of a visit to Kyiv on Tuesday by one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s only European allies, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, for talks with Zelensky.

Ukraine’s Security Service said in a post on Telegram on Monday that a group of people were preparing “a series of provocations” in the capital, Kyiv.

She added that the group is led by one of the founders of a public organization known for its “anti-Ukrainian actions” since 2015, though she did not name the individual or group.

The suspects planned to call a public rally in central Kiev on Sunday to announce the removal of the country’s military and political leadership from power, the SBU said. They then planned to seize the Ukrainian parliament building, the statement added.

The security services said the perpetrators “hoped to stir up the social and political situation within our country, which would work to Russia’s advantage,” though they did not explicitly say whether the Kremlin was behind the group or its plans.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he survived several Russian assassination attempts.Zhao Dingchi/Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images

The SBU did not identify the suspects or identify how many people had been detained. But it said they were charged with calling for the overthrow of the constitutional order and the seizure of power. If convicted, they could face up to 10 years in prison, the SBU said.

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In a separate statement, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office said on Monday that the head of the group Investigators sought to recruit members of the military and private security personnel to help them carry out the plan.

She added that The leader rented a hall in Kiev that could hold about 2,000 people, though he did not specify what purpose it was for. He also said four people had been arrested.

NBC News could not independently verify details of the alleged coup, one of several. Attempts to overthrow the Ukrainian leadership since Putin launched his invasion in February 2022.

Ukrainian investigators said in May they had foiled a Russian plot to assassinate Zelensky and other senior military and political figures. Two colonels in Ukraine’s National Guard, which protects senior officials, were arrested on suspicion of carrying out the plan.

Prior to the Russian invasion, Zelensky claimed to have intelligence and recordings of a coup plot involving Russians and a Ukrainian billionaire.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban meets with Zelensky in Kyiv on Tuesday.Zoltan Fischer/The Associated Press

News of the latest plot emerged two days before Orban, the Hungarian prime minister, was due to arrive in Kyiv for talks with Zelensky.

Orban, who describes himself as an “illiberal” leader, is known to have a close personal relationship with Putin, and while he and his government have condemned the invasion of Ukraine, they have refused to criticize the Russian leader.

He has also routinely blocked, delayed or undermined European Union efforts to provide aid to Ukraine and impose sanctions on Russia over the war.

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He also accused Ukraine of violating rights. From the country’s Hungarian ethnic minority The western region of Zakarpattia has been at odds for years, complicating relations between the two neighbors.

Urban’s visit comes the next day. Hungary takes over the rotating presidency of the European Union for six monthsa position that does not have much real power but can be used to set the tone for the 27-nation bloc’s agenda.

Referring to the presidency at a news conference after his meeting with Zelensky, Orban said he chose Kyiv for his first visit “because peace is an important issue” and that war affects European security, according to a translation of his comments posted on the Ukrainian president’s official Telegram account.

He also pledged to resolve “all past conflicts” with Ukraine, and “focus on the future.”

Zelensky’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, said an “important conversation” took place about the future of Europe, security, international law and the peace formula, Zelensky’s 10-point plan to end the war.

Elsewhere, in eastern Ukraine, fierce fighting continued between the country’s forces and their Russian rivals. However, Moscow’s counteroffensive in the northeastern Kharkiv region appears to have stalled as newly committed U.S. military supplies begin to arrive.