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Zelensky Assassination Plot: Smokescreen to Divert Public Attention or Internal Strife?

© AP Photo / Olivier MatthysUkraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.05.2024
Two Ukrainian counterintelligence officers were detained over an alleged plot to kill Volodymyr Zelensky. But what is behind the furore?
The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) claims it has foiled an assassination attempt against Volodymyr Zelensky.
The two suspects detained on May 7 are said to be colonels of Ukraine's State Security Administration (UDO), the nation's domestic counterintelligence service.
Political analyst Alexander Asafov drew attention to the timing of the alleged plot: it came after of Zelensky signed a draconian mobilization law in a bid to reverse the ongoing retreats by the Ukrainian armed forces.
Meanwhile Zelensky's five-year term is set to expire on May 20 — after which the functions of the presidency must be assumed by the speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian parliament, until the election of a new president in accordance with the Ukrainian Constitution. But Zelensky refuses to leave office in defiance of the law.

The alleged plot "could be an artificial ideological construct intended to divert attention from genuinely significant issues, such as the forcible conscription of individuals and their deployment to the front lines," Asafov told Sputnik.

It could also be used as a pretext for "the deprivation of basic human rights of citizens who live abroad, and a host of other problems, including the Zelensky legitimacy issue."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky listens as President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, in Washington - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.04.2024
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Some experts also believe that a fierce struggle has broken out in Zelensky’s inner circle, following on from the conflict between the Ukrainian president and Ukrainian Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief General Valery Zaluzhny and other generals over the botched summer counteroffensive.
Zaluzhny was sacked and then named as the Ukrainian ambassador the UK — but has not been heard from since.
If the assassination attempt was not a hoax, then it is possible the Ukrainian military tried to get rid of Zelensky, alleged Asafov. The plot could have also been the result of internal power struggle between political factions in Kiev.
"There is internal competition," Asafov said. "We know that it is extremely intensive now, and that there are oligarchs who in one way or another fund various information processes. Furthermore, in the absence of elections, Zelensky will completely cease to be legitimate in several days. Therefore there is an emerging internal strife."
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky wipes his eye during a press conference with Finland's President Alexander Stubb, in Kiev, Ukraine - Sputnik International, 1920, 06.05.2024
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According to Asafov, Ukrainian politicians are embroiled in a behind-the-scenes struggle. Some of Zelensky's competitors either reside abroad or frequently travel there for consultations.
Figures like former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko have a history of close collaboration with the US Democratic Party.
The Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) alleged earlier this month that the West is extremely concerned about Zelensky's growing unpopularity at home, and has stepped up its search for an alternative Ukrainian president.
According to the agency, the West has contacted Petro Poroshenko, Vitaly Klitschko, Andriy Yermak, Valery Zaluzhny and former speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament Dmytro Razumkov. The agency believes that these figures could become key players if an urgent change in the Kiev regime's leadership is needed.
Volodymyr Zelensky delivers his speech at the Annual Meeting of World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024. - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.05.2024
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