A group of influential Ukrainian politicians and media figures, including the country's richest business tycoon Rinat Akhmetov, came to Vilnius last week, reportedly to discuss their plans for the country, according to an investigation by the daily Ukrainska Pravda.
The report comes days after Ukraine's president spoke about a planned coup by Russian “representatives” involving Akhmetov.
According to the report, on November 22 Ukraine's former interior minister Arsen Avakov posted a photo where he is seen with TV hosts Savik Shuster and Yevhen Komarovsky, TV producer Pavlo Yelizarov, journalist Dmytro Hordon, and former prime minister Volodymyr Hroisman on a lakeside in Trakai, a town west of Vilnius.
Hordon commented that they were in Lithuania to celebrate Shuster's birthday. They were later filmed in a party at the Neringa restaurant in Vilnius. Lithuanian MP Emanuelis Zingeris was also spotted in their company. BNS approached Zingeris for a comment on Wednesday, but could not reach him.
According to Ukrainska Pravda, Akhmetov also came to Vilnius on November 22. Although he was not seen in the company of the other Ukrainians, the newspaper quotes sources saying the businessman came to discuss candidates for Ukraine's upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections.
Last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky alleged that Russian “representatives” were organising an overthrow of his government.
“I have received information that a coup will happen in our country on 1 December,” the Ukrainian president said in a lengthy news conference last Friday.
Zelensky said Akhmetov, considered an opponent of the president, was “being dragged into war against the Ukrainian state”.
The president did not name the alleged coup plotters, but said Akhmetov may or may not know about such plans that he was being drawn into by his “inner circle”.
Zelensky also criticised Hordon and Shuster, accusing the latter of trying to destabilise Ukraine.
Akhmetov has rejected the claims, calling it a “lie”.
“My position was and will be unequivocal, an independent, democratic and integral Ukraine with Crimea and my native Donbass. My actions confirm this,” he said in a statement published in Ukrainian media.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also responded to Zelensky's claims, saying Russia “never does such things at all”.