Volodymyr Zelensky is not afraid of the Russian weapon, but of the people. From his: Ukrainian. Yesterday, the president around whom the country rallied on the day of the Russian invasion, the president who according to polls still has a very high approval rating, summoned journalists to his office. And he revealed to them that he was fully aware of a Russian disinformation plan to unleash chaos in Ukraine. A plan – he claims – for his removal.
The Russians had given this plan the provocative name: “Maidan 3”. A reissue, but in reverse, of the revolutions with which the Ukrainians overthrew President Yanukovych: the “Orange” of 2004, then the “Euromaidan” of 2014, which forced him to flee to Moscow. Exactly ten years have passed since then… “Our intelligence has received information about this plan,” says Zelensky, “we have also received similar information from partners. This is an understandable operation, for the Russians Maidan was a coup d’état.”
The accusation was met with irony in Moscow, with the usual haughty tone of Security Council Vice President Dmitry Medvedev. But in Kiev, where yesterday Zelensky fired the deputy head of the foreign intelligence service, Alexander Tarasovsky, without officially stated reasons, these words sound like the clanking of weapons. “The president is starting to prepare for a military coup – wrote the anti-corruption journalist Igor Moseychuk, who is one of the founders of the “Azov” battalion and who can in no way be accused of sympathizing with the Russians. “Wandering between corruption, the decline of trust in him and conflicts with the military and politicians – emphasizes Moseychuk – Zelensky begins to understand that his days in power are practically over. But he presents the situation with the mask of a Russian special operation”.
The icy wind, which promises snow in Kiev, also freezes the nerves on Bankova Street, where the president and his people have been on their toes for weeks. The crisis between the country’s political and military leaders is escalating. It was unleashed by the head of the armed forces, General Valery Zaluzhny – a possible rival in the presidential elections, which Zelensky will have to schedule after the future ceasefire. In the English magazine “The Economist”, he trashed the presidential strategy, based on the rhetoric of the counter-offensive and the over-ambitious peace plan, which pushed the Russians beyond the borders of 1991, that is, away from the occupied territories of Donbass and Crimea. Kato Zaluzhny pointed a finger at the naked king: the counteroffensive bogged down in trench battles, he said, without winners and losers. Then the president fired his loyal people, such as General Khorenko, who led the special operations forces. His assistant died in an “accident” that smacked of an assassination attempt.
The explosive situation in the country in the midst of the still terrible and unwinnable war is not the only thorn in Zelensky’s heel. He feels a coldness emanating from his allies themselves. Funding for Ukraine is not in Biden’s order, and even a vote on EU membership risks being delayed. In this regard, Kiev recalls the words of the US reconstruction envoy Penny Pritzker, who asked how Zelensky and his entourage plan to move forward if they find themselves without American aid.
For intelligence spokesman Andriy Yusov, the “Maidan 3” plan is woven into the usual Russian propaganda narratives, but now runs “in parallel with the intensification of internal conflicts. Russian propaganda again pays great attention to internal political events in Ukraine,” says Yusov. And dissent in the state is forbidden, there is martial law and the accusation of “pro-Russian sympathies” is tantamount to certain arrest. As in 21 months of war, only the president’s people are spreading on the unified television network. And the Ukrainian special services even organize courses to “teach” foreign journalists how to recognize “Russian propaganda”, i.e. unwanted news.
Meanwhile, Zelensky continues with the rhetoric of the counteroffensive, constantly trumpeting that victory is still possible, if not certain. And so yesterday the news, popularized by the president, about the “Ukrainian bridgehead established on the left bank of the Dnieper, near Kherson” was officially distributed. They are important to keep the mortars away from the city, under the hellfire of which six civilians died yesterday. But the Russian lines remained ever so stable beyond the reeds of the Dnieper.
Translation from Italian for “Trud news”: Rumen Mihailov