Sunday, May 19, 2024

Ukraine detains two officials for treason over alleged Russian plot to kill Zelensky

Ukraine has arrested two security officials allegedly involved in a Russian plot to assassinate President Volodymyr Zelensky, which Kyiv’s state security service (SBU) claimed it foiled.

Two colonels in Ukraine’s government protection unit were accused of carrying out “subversive activities against Ukraine in exchange for financial compensation”, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s office said Tuesday.

Both colonels were charged with treason; one was also charged with preparing a terrorist act.

The prosecutor’s office announced one of the suspects received two drones and ammunition from Russia’s state security service (FSB), which they intended to transfer to another accomplice to carry out an explosion.

The SBU added it had “foiled” the “actively developing plans” to assassinate Zelensky and other senior Ukrainian officials, including the head of the SBU, Vasyl Maliuk, and the head of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine, Kyrylo Budanov.

“One of the tasks of the FSB’s agent network was to find perpetrators among the military close to the President’s security who could take the Head of State hostage and then kill him,” the SBU noted.

Zelensky has reportedly faced several attempts on his life since Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

A woman from the southern Ukrainian region of Mykolaiv was arrested in August 2023 in connection to a plot to assassinate Zelensky. She was accused of gathering intelligence about Zelensky’s planned visit to Mykolaiv in order to plan a Russian airstrike to kill him. The SBU announced it caught the woman “red-handed” as she tried “to pass intelligence to the invaders”.

In April, a Polish man was accused of assisting another alleged Russian assassination plot against Zelensky. He was charged with “readiness to act for foreign intelligence against the Republic of Poland”, an offense which carries up to eight years in prison.

Prosecutors said the man agreed to provide information to Russian spies about security at Rzeszów-Jasionka airport, in southeastern Poland near the border with Ukraine, which Zelensky is known to use when leaving on foreign trips. The plot was uncovered by Ukrainian authorities and the man was later detained and charged in Poland.

Aside from assassination plots, Zelensky has experienced a number of close shaves during his many visits to the front lines and cities under Russian bombardment.

During a visit to the coastal city of Odesa in March, a Russian missile exploded close to a convoy carrying Zelensky and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. The group felt the impact of the strike, which landed around 500 meters away from the convoy, and saw a “mushroom cloud” of smoke. Five people were killed in the strike, although neither Zelensky nor Mitsotakis were injured.

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