Ukraine says it foiled a Russian spy agency plot to assassinate President Zelensky

Ukrainian counterintelligence investigators say they have foiled a Russian plot to assassinate President Volodymyr Zelensky and other top military and political figures

Published - May 07, 2024 06:33 pm IST - KYIV

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. File

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. File | Photo Credit: AP

Ukrainian counterintelligence investigators have foiled a Russian plot to assassinate President Volodymyr Zelensky and other top military and political figures, Ukraine’s state security service said May 7.

Two colonels in the State Guard of Ukraine, which protects top officials, were detained on suspicion of enacting the plan drawn up by Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, a statement said. The colonels were recruited before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, according to the statement.

It quoted the head of the State Security Service, Vasyl Maliuk, as saying the plot foresaw an attack before Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inauguration for a fifth term on Tuesday. Mr. Maliuk said that he oversaw the top-secret operation to track the plot.

Plot to assassinate Zelensky

Ukrainian claims of Russian efforts to kill Mr. Zelensky aren't new. Mr. Zelensky said in 2022 there had been at least 10 attempts to assassinate him, and now the war with Russia has stretched into its third year. Also, prosecutors in Poland said last month that a Polish man had been arrested on allegations of being ready to spy on behalf of Russia’s military intelligence in an alleged plot to assassinate him.

Mr. Zelensky’s movements are kept secret for security reasons, and his visits around the country are publicly announced only after he has left. News of events he holds in Kyiv is usually embargoed until they are over.

The Ukrainian statement said the Russian intelligence agents targeting Mr. Zelensky sought out members of the Ukrainian military close to the president’s security detail who could take the head of state hostage and later kill him. The operation was run from Moscow, it said, providing the names of three alleged Russian spies behind the conspiracy.

The broader plan was to identify the location of senior Ukrainian officials and target them with a rocket attack, followed by drones and missiles. The two Ukrainian colonels were arrested on suspicion of treason, which carries a life sentence, the statement said.

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