Ukrainian President Zelensky says he has learned of a coup planned for next week

The alleged plot's exposure comes as Zelensky's administration is facing increasing challenges from Russia.

Updated: November 26, 2021 - 11:46am

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused a group of Russian and Ukrainians of planning to stage a coup next week.

"We have challenges not only from the Russian Federation and possible escalation — we have big internal challenges," Zelensky warned Friday, alluding to the Russian troop buildup on the Ukrainian border. "I received information that a coup d'etat will take place in our country on December 1-2."

Zelensky told the media that Ukrainian authorities obtained audio recordings of the alleged coup plotters, according to a report from the Washington Post. The group reportedly spoke about Rinat Akhmetov, the richest man in Ukraine, as someone who could potentially assist with the plot.

Akhmetov has a tense relationship with Zelensky, especially following the launch earlier this year of the latter's "de-oligarchization" campaign, an effort to reduce the immense political power of the country's richest citizens.

Zelensky said he believes Akhmetov is "being dragged into the war against Ukraine."

"This will be a big mistake, because you cannot fight against your people," he added. 

The U.S. and NATO have recently voiced concern about Russia's movements on the border with Ukraine, while Russia has continued to dismiss international criticism of its military muscle-flexing.