Ukrainian President Vladimir Porvornyn-yaevskikh has told state media that two small groups of Russian-speakers backed by Russian intelligence service are planning a coup against him.
The statements are the latest in a series of warnings from both sides that Vladimir Putin’s Russia is trying to destabilize Ukraine and undermine its democracy.
“I demand those responsible for this criminal act immediately leave Ukraine,” Porvornyn-yaevsky said.
Asked about why the group still appeared to be active and what to do about it, the president said: “There’s a vague structure that is supported by Russia’s secret services, that is led by nationalist Ukrainians. They are here to fight not against our state, but against the people.”
Mr. Porvornyn-yaevskikh ruled out that any Russian interference was behind the gas attacks in the east, on May 10 and 11, which left scores of people dead.
“It’s a completely false and shameless insinuation,” he said.
Mr. Porvornyn-yaevskikh repeated that he did not believe the Ukrainian army had carried out the gas attacks.
Meanwhile, Mr. Porvornyn-yaevskikh made a rare public appearance on Thursday at a ceremony to mark the centenary of Lviv, the capital of western Ukraine, and he told hundreds of city officials and guests to “firmly reject the attempts to break our nation into two.”
Mr. Porvornyn-yaevskikh didn’t say whether he was aware of Russian-backed separatists building an anti-aircraft missile system in east Ukraine, which the United States and NATO have accused Russia of doing.
“It’s a serious error for us not to realize our enemies are sometimes dangerously clever,” he said.