Ukrainian politician mocks ‘stupid’ UK for claiming he can lead Kremlin puppet government

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian lawmaker Yevhen Mulayev attends the Verkhovna Rada session of the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev, Ukraine, November 26, 2018. REUTERS/Vladislav Musienko

Elena Ostrovskaya and Natalia Zinec

KIEV (Reuters) – Former Ukrainian lawmaker Yevhen Murayev mocked British accusations that he could be named leader of the Kiev Kremlin puppet government and told Reuters in an interview that he was considering legal action.

The British Foreign Office said on Sunday that Moscow was considering Mulayev as a potential candidate to lead Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion, adding that Russian intelligence officials were in contact with several other former Ukrainian politicians about planned attacks.

Russia has slammed the allegations as “disinformation,” while a Ukrainian official said they should be taken seriously.

“This morning, I’ve read about this conspiracy theory in all the news publications: absolutely unproven, absolutely unfounded,” Murayev said in a video call.

He denies any contact with Russian intelligence officials and dismisses the idea of ​​a possible alliance with the Kremlin as “foolish” because he was sanctioned by Russia in 2018.

“Maybe in the UK, it was somehow forgotten or missed, or simply not taken seriously,” Murayev said, adding that the allegations made him doubt the quality of British intelligence work.

Earlier, he posted a photo of himself on Facebook (NASDAQ: ) that had been altered to resemble the fictional British spy James Bond.

Kiev and its Western allies have warned of a Russian military buildup near the Ukrainian border. Russia denies plans for an attack but has demanded security guarantees, including preventing Ukraine from joining the NATO alliance.

“Peace, not NATO”

Murayev said he was prepared to defend his “honest name” against the British charges. “The lawyer is preparing a mechanism for me,” he added. “I will defend my honor in court.”

Born in 1976, he began his political career in his hometown of Kharkiv as an ally of former President Viktor Yanukovych, who brought a pro-Western leadership to power during the 2014 independence protests Later, Yanukovych fled to Russia.

Mulayev served as a lawmaker from 2014 to 2019. He started with the Opposition, a party made up of fragments of the Yanukovych Party of Regions. In June 2016, he started his own party, For Life, and another party, Nashi, in 2018.

While he said he wanted Ukraine to be independent from Russia and the West, Murayev made some points that were consistent with the Kremlin’s narrative about Ukraine.

In an interview with Reuters, he called for a change in power in Ukraine and blamed the “collective West” for the war in eastern Donbass. Responding to Russia’s hostility to the coalition, he said:

“Peace, not NATO, is in our interest, and if the problem now is that we’re going to go to war and hundreds of thousands of people are going to die because the collective West wants to see us as a launch pad, I think that’s against our interest.”

Murayev told Reuters he wanted Ukraine to remain politically neutral like Switzerland. He said he believed Russia had imposed sanctions on him at the behest of a prominent pro-Kremlin politician in Ukraine, with whom he fell out.

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