The Russian president has accused Ukrainian leaders of guarding a ‘cleanup’ of the country’s political space.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused neighboring Ukraine of being “anti-Russia” and warned Moscow of being ready to act on what he said was a threat to self-security amid increase in tension with Kyiv.
Putin’s comments on Friday a day after a Ukrainian court placed Viktor Medvedchuk, a prominent pro-Russian politician and personal friend of the Russian president, under house arrest.
Medvedchuk, who has promoted closer ties with Russia and has served as a mediator between Moscow and Kyiv in the past, is being investigated over allegations of treason which he dismissed with political motives. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
Speaking at a meeting of Russia’s security council, Putin accused Kyiv of orchestrating a “cleanup” of the country’s political space.
He said that the Ukrainian authorities have targeted individuals who favor better relations with Russia and support a peaceful settlement in eastern Ukraine, where Ukrainian forces are fighting Russian-backed separatists from 2014, and also showed the closure of some pro-Russian media outlets.
“Judging by all, and it’s even more unfortunate, Ukraine has slowly but surely become a polar class opposite Russia, an anti-Russia class, and a platform from whose territory we always seem receive news that needs our special attention from a security perspective, ”Putin said.
“National media outlets have been shut down – and our Western partners have never reacted, if not said in support of those rulings,” he added.
Putin went on to warn Moscow not to stand silent amid what he described as a selective crackdown on some individuals doing business in Russia.
“Of course, this is an issue that should always be on our radar and we need to respond to it because of the threats posed to us in a timely and appropriate manner,” he said.
‘The number of oligarchs is declining’
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy defended the measures against Medvedchuk.
He said on Friday the crackdown on Medvedchuk, which began in February when he and several associates were allowed and three television channels owned by an ally were forced away from the air, a legal way to strangle what was described. him his evil influence.
“For the first time in many years the number of oligarchs did not increase, but decreased. Minus Medvedchuk,” Zelenskyy wrote in a blog.
“With the help of legal tools, Medvedchuk was interpreted into the possibility of using media assets and state property to openly attack the country and damage state security,” he added.
Medvedchuk’s case marks the latest flashpoint between Moscow and Kyiv, which have been at war since 2014, in a revolution that toppled former Kremlin President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, Moscow’s annexation of the Black Sea region in Crimea and Russian -backed separatists control a chunk. in eastern Ukraine.
Tensions have fluctuated in recent months after the two countries sold off the escalation of hostilities in eastern Ukraine, and Russia, calling it a defensive exercise, mobilized troops in western border of Ukraine and Crimea.
The head of Ukraine’s state security service last week said Russia still has 100,000 troops deployed near its western border with Ukraine and Crimea despite Moscow announcing a military withdrawal last month.