Monday, May 23, 2022

Who is Yeven Murayev named by Britain as Kremlin’s choice to lead Ukraine?

Ukraine MP Yevgen Murayev attends the Verkhovna Rada, a session of parliament, in Kiev, Ukraine on April 25, 2019.Vladislav Musienko/Reuters

Britain has accused the Kremlin of wanting to install a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine, and has said Russian intelligence officials were in contact with former Ukrainian politicians as part of a plan for a military attack.

Britain’s foreign ministry said Russia was considering Ukrainian politician Yevgeny Murayev to head a new government, comments Russia has denied. Murayev also poured cold water on the claim in comments to the Observer newspaper.

Russia, Britain allege conspiracy to overthrow Ukraine government

Who is Yeven Murayev?

Born in 1976 in the eastern city of Kharkiv near the Russian border, Murayev is part of a group of politicians opposed to the pro-Western leadership that took power after the 2014 Maidan street protests.

He began his political career in Kharkiv as an aide to former President Viktor Yanukovich, who had fled Russia after the Maidan uprising.

In 2014-2019, Murayev was a legislator. He started out in the opposition Bloc faction, a party made up of fragments of the Moscow-backed Yanukovich’s Party of Regions. But in June 2016 he distanced himself from the opposition bloc and founded his own Party for Life with a similar ideology.

In 2018, he launched another party named Nashi. Murayev registered as a presidential candidate in the 2019 elections, but withdrew his candidacy before the vote.

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What are the political views of Murayev?

Murayev has promoted views that closely coincide with Russian narratives on Ukraine. He considered Maidan’s protest a Western-backed coup.

Last year, he referred to the war in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region as an internal conflict between the government and rebels, in contrast to Ukraine and the West’s view that the conflict is between Ukraine and a Russian-backed proxy.

In 2021, he said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was controlled by the West and suggested, as Russia has done, that Ukraine could attempt to recapture territory occupied by force by Russian-backed separatists. Is. Kiev has denied any such plans.

“Zelensky is a hostage and he is blackmailed by MI6, the CIA, anyone. Tomorrow they may force him to launch an offensive against the Donbass, which will lead to a full-scale war, ”he said.

Dragging Russia into an escalation would mean “the death of thousands of Ukrainians on one side and the line of demarcation on the other.”

What is the influence of Murayev?

Murayev is less prominent than pro-Moscow businessman and lawmaker Viktor Medvedchuk, who says Russian President Vladimir Putin is his daughter’s godfather and was placed under house arrest for treason last year.

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Murayev still dominates through his TV channel called Nash, which began airing in November 2018 and is officially owned by his father, Volodymyr.

According to a poll by the Razumkov Center think tank in December 2021, in the next presidential election in 2024, Murayev was in seventh place with 6.3% support. Another survey by the rating group placed him in fifth place.

In 2017 he filed an asset declaration, a mandatory requirement as a legislator. He declared cash assets of $2 million, 1 million euros ($1.13 million) and 13 million hryvnia ($460,971).

What do Murayev and others say about Britain’s accusations?

Murayev dismissed Britain’s claim, telling the Observer newspaper that the allegation “is not very logical”. He promised more comments in a Facebook post, along with a photoshopped image of him mocking James Bond.

In a later post, he called for an end to dividing Ukraine into pro-Western and pro-Russian politicians, and said the country needed new leaders.

Russia dismissed Britain’s allegations as “propaganda”. The government of Ukraine had no immediate comment.

Ukrainian political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko found Murayev an odd candidate.

“Muraev, despite his all-Russian supporter, is not very close to the Kremlin, especially compared to Medvedchuk,” wrote Fesenko.

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