Investigating sexual violence as war crimes — "He Came Back"
Our War Crimes Investigations Unit released its new documentary, “He Came Back”. The film is about two cases of sexual violence committed by Russian soldiers during the occupation of Kherson and Kyiv oblasts in 2022 — and the process of identifying the offenders. Watch it on our YouTube channel.
Skip to content
Edit post

Zelensky holds 5-hour press marathon with handpicked media

by The Kyiv Independent November 26, 2021 5:21 AM 4 min read
(president.gov.ua)
This audio is created with AI assistance

Support independent journalism in Ukraine. Join us in this fight.

Become a member Support us just once

President Volodymyr Zelensky held a press marathon with 32 cherry-picked media on Nov. 26. The President’s Office announced the event on the evening of Nov. 25. There was no usual accreditation process open for everyone: Ukrainian and international media outlets were chosen and invited by the President’s Office. Many journalists criticized the move as infringing on press freedom. A few showed up at the event to protest.

Zelensky talked with journalists for five hours. Several times, the president’s temper got the better of him, and Zelensky turned to accusations against specific journalists, questioning their motives or complaining that they were infringing on his personal life.

Here are some of the most important takeaways:

On Kremlin’s alleged coup d’etat in Ukraine

Zelensky claimed that the Kremlin was preparing a coup d’etat in Ukraine for Dec. 1. He said there’s intelligence data and audio recordings proving it.

This news came amid an ongoing buildup of Russia’s troops near the eastern border of Ukraine and intelligence reports that the Kremlin was preparing an invasion.

U.S. President Joe Biden said he was concerned by the alleged coup plot and will probably speak to both Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin about it.

On Akhmetov’s ‘war against Ukraine’

Zelensky said that in the audio recordings Ukrainian and Russian representatives discuss the richest Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov’s alleged participation in the coup.

“(According to the data), $1 billion will be spent. (Akhmetov) is being pulled into a war against the Ukrainian state, and I believe that he has started it, and that will be a big mistake,” Zelensky said.

Akhmetov responded that the information is “an absolute lie,” claiming he roots for “an independent, democratic, and united Ukraine with Crimea and his home region, Donbas.”

The comments come amid a conflict between Zelensky and Akhmetov. The conflict intensified after Zelensky signed the so-called “anti-oligarch” bill into law on Nov. 5.

The oligarch’s media started to criticize Zelensky heavily in recent weeks.

On Russian military buildup along Ukrainian border

Despite the alarming Western reports about the buildup of at least 90,000 Russian troops along Ukraine’s border, Zelensky claimed that the situation isn’t worse than in the spring, when Russia similarly amassed forces near the occupied Donbas and in Crimea. He also said the risk of Russia’s attack has always existed since its invasion of Ukraine in 2014. “We are in full control of our borders and are fully ready for any escalation,” he said.

On failed intelligence operation

Zelensky said he had not approved the infamous Wagner operation that was reportedly planned by Ukraine to intercept 33 Kremlin-backed mercenaries of the Wagner military company en route from Minsk to Istanbul in 2020.

The failed operation has been dominating the news amid allegations that someone in Zelensky’s administration sabotaged it by leaking the information to Belarus or Russia, which prevented the capture of mercenaries who had fought against Ukraine on Russia’s side in the Donbas.

Zelensky said he had asked the then-head of military intelligence Vasyl Burba if passengers could be killed as a result, and Burba allegedly said “yes.” “I’m ready to approve any operations if they are thought through and if no people suffer,” Zelensky said.

The presidential administration has been changing its narrative about the Wagner operation. First, they said Ukraine’s intelligence had never prepared such an operation. Now Zelensky says he knew about the operation but disapproved of it.

According to the Nov. 17 Bellingcat investigation, Zelensky's chief of staff Andriy Yermak delayed the sting operation. Soon after that, Belarus intercepted the mercenaries. Both Zelensky and Yermak denied ordering the delay.

At the Nov. 26 press event, Zelensky called Burba a “fraud” and accused him of selling classified information. Burba said he would sue Zelensky for slander.

On Zelensky’s chief of staff reported birthday at state residence

Zelensky admitted that he and his entourage, including chief of staff Andriy Yermak, used several State Emergency Service helicopters to fly to the state-owned residence in the Carpathian mountains, on the day of Yermak’s birthday.

Zelensky said that the group was forced to fly in emergency service helicopters because both his presidential plane and helicopter were being repaired.

However, Zelensky denied there was a birthday party for his top aide, claiming they were at the residence to prepare for an international event celebrating 30 years of Ukrainian diplomacy, to be held there in December.

Ukrainska Pravda reported about the alleged birthday trip on Nov. 24, claiming it was another instance of Zelensky breaking his promise not to use state residences.

On bribery suspect, deputy chief of staff Tatarov

Zelensky praised his deputy chief of staff Oleh Tatarov, a bribery suspect, for his alleged efforts to push through judicial reform. “At the President’s Office, it is Tatarov who’s in charge of this,” Zelensky said.

Meanwhile, anti-corruption activists have accused Tatarov of sabotaging rule of law reforms, including the selection of the chief anti-corruption prosecutor. Zelensky denied this, and Tatarov did not respond to a request for comment.

Tatarov was charged in 2020 with bribing a forensic expert. Back then, the President’s Office claimed that his functions related to law enforcement had been suspended. However, Zelensky said on Nov. 26 that Tatarov keeps overseeing law enforcement. Asked whether there is a conflict of interest, Zelensky said “probably not.”

In February, a court refused to extend the Tatarov investigation, and prosecutors effectively killed it by missing the deadline for sending it to trial.

“This history with criminal cases is over,” Zelensky said. “I’m not paying attention to this.”

On National Security and Defense Council’s sanctions

The National Security and Defense Council, headed by Zelensky, has introduced sanctions against hundreds of foreign and Ukrainian individuals, including Russia-linked high-profile Ukrainians, top smugglers, and gang leaders. "We are defending our state as best we can,” Zelensky said. Previously, the sanctions have faced scrutiny as the council’s decisions were not backed or followed by criminal investigations or court proceedings.

Before you skip this banner, we want to tell you something…

The Kyiv Independent doesn’t depend on a wealthy owner or an oligarch — in 2023, 80% of our revenue was from reader contributions . It’s thanks to them that we don’t have to rely on a single owner.

Support us now and help maintain our independent model and keep our articles free for everyone. Your contributions allow us to cover journalists’ salaries, report from the front lines, and fund projects like our War Crimes Investigations Unit.

visa masterCard americanExpress

News Feed

5:57 PM

Gas pipeline on fire in Russia's Saratov Oblast.

"According to the preliminary information, the cause was an unusual heat, which led to depressurization and combustion," Saratov Oblast Governor Roman Busargin claimed on his Telegram channel.
Ukraine Daily
News from Ukraine in your inbox
Ukraine news
Please, enter correct email address
3:37 PM

Zelensky: All parts of the world represented at peace summit.

"All parts of the world, all continents, different nations, both large and small geographically, and every political pole of our world—Latin America, the Middle East and Asia, Africa, Europe, the Pacific, Australia, North America—are all represented at the summit," President Volodymyr Zelensky said.
12:54 AM

Germany blocks sanctions on Russian gas.

European Union countries failed to approve a new sanctions package targeting the Russian gas industry after German authorities intervened to block the deal at the last minute.
MORE NEWS

Editors' Picks

Enter your email to subscribe
Please, enter correct email address
Subscribe
* indicates required
* indicates required
Subscribe
* indicates required
* indicates required
Subscribe
* indicates required

Subscribe

* indicates required
Subscribe
* indicates required

Subscribe

* indicates required
Subscribe
* indicates required

Subscribe

* indicates required
Successfuly subscribed
Thank you for signing up for this newsletter. We’ve sent you a confirmation email.