Yevhen Murayev: the Manchurian candidate?

Russia will face severe economic sanctions if it installs a puppet regime in Ukraine, a senior UK minister said on Sunday after Britain accused the Kremlin of seeking to install a pro-Russian leader there.

Britain, in a statement issued late on Saturday by the foreign ministry, said Russian intelligence officers had been in contact with a number of former Ukrainian politicians as part of plans for an invasion. The ministry said it had information the Russian government was considering former Ukrainian parliamentarian Yevhen Murayev as a potential candidate to head a pro-Russian leadership.

The Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed the comments as "disinformation", accusing Britain and NATO of "escalating tensions" over Ukraine.

Mykhailo Podolyak, a Ukrainian adviser to the presidential office, said the allegations should be taken seriously.

"There'll be very serious consequences if Russia takes this move to try and invade but also install a puppet regime," British Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab told Sky News on Sunday.

Murayev, 45, is pro-Russian, and opposes Ukraine's integration with the West. He denied claims that Russia wants to install him as Ukraine's leader, in comments to Britain's Observer newspaper. In a Facebook post later on Sunday, he called for an end to dividing Ukraine into pro-Western and pro-Russian politicians.

"The time of pro-Western and pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine is gone forever," he said. "Ukraine needs new politicians whose policy will be based solely on the principles of the national interests of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people."

The British foreign ministry declined to provide evidence to back its accusations. A ministry source said it was not usual practice to share intelligence matters, and the details had only been declassified after careful consideration to deter Russian aggression.

U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne said in a statement: "This kind of plotting is deeply concerning. The Ukrainian people have the sovereign right to determine their own future, and we stand with our democratically-elected partners in Ukraine."

Britain, which this week supplied 2,000 missiles and a team of military trainers to Ukraine, also said it had information that Russian intelligence services were maintaining links with "numerous" former Ukrainian politicians, including senior figures with links to ex-President Viktor Yanukovich, who is now in exile in Russia.


Note: Manchurian candidate is a term used to describe a person, especially a politician, being used as a puppet by an enemy power.


Image: By tov_sergeant - Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/...


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