Ukraine president accuses ‘plotters’ of plot against him

Image copyright AFP Image caption Mr Zelensky said the new group of activists had ties to Moscow

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused a group of protesters of plotting a coup against him.

The opposition includes 13 activists and “an unidentified number of former officers of the Russian army”, he said in a video message.

It comes after Mr Zelensky and Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman expelled Russian diplomats from Kiev following a Ukrainian jet being shot down last week.

Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other for the downing of the jet.

Who is Zelensky?

Mr Zelensky, who was a director of the state oil company Naftogaz, was sworn in as president on 1 June.

Before that he was prime minister and acting president of Ukraine following the end of a period of political paralysis and a snap election.

Mr Zelensky was also the co-founder of the pro-Western Our Ukraine party and oversaw the Moscow-backed Party of Regions when it held power for the past decade.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Two Ukrainian Foreign Ministry diplomats were fired after a Russian jet was shot down last week

He also once ran the only football club in Ukraine to be banned from European competition, the Sovetsky Sport of Dnipropetrovsk.

His daughter led the country’s football association before the Ukrainian Football Union president was forced to resign after he paid a separatist militia group in eastern Ukraine £170,000.

Zelensky took a break from politics after he fell ill at a 2015 Ukrainian presidential election campaign event.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Mr Zelensky had been prime minister under President Petro Poroshenko and acting president after the former prime minister Volodymyr Groysman resigned

Since returning to the fray this year, Mr Zelensky has made relations with Russia and the European Union an issue.

He appeared to directly blame Russian officials on a statement about the downing of the pilot and his interpreter.

“I said in November 2015 [a period before he took office], that there were plans for a coup d’etat, for an attempted power transition. They have not been stopped even after that,” he said.

On Tuesday, Mr Zelensky said the ousted Russian ambassadors to Ukraine and Moldova had fled to Moscow.

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