Zelensky: 'Russian playbook involves assassinations' says Raab

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Overnight, Russian troops seized Europe’s largest nuclear plant at Zaporizhzhia, after a fire sparked by heavy shelling. The Ukrainian authorities said that though no changes in radiation had been recorded, if the plant loses any ability to cool nuclear fuel it could lead to “significant radioactive emissions” that could outgrow “all previous nuclear power plant accidents”. Ukraine President Zelensky accused Russia of a “terror attack” after the plant was bombed and appealed directly to the Russian people to stage protests over the seizure of the nuclear power infrastructure.

He said: “Russian people, I want to appeal to you. How is this possible?

“After all, we fought together in 1986 against the Chernobyl catastrophe.”

Mr Zelensky has received plaudits around the world for his leadership during Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.

The President, who has reportedly survived three Kremlin-backed assasination attempts in just days, was an actor and comedian before being elected Ukraine’s leader in 2019 with 73.2 percent of votes in the second round.

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He was best known for starring in political satire Servant of the People, in which he plays a disillusioned teacher who accidentally becomes Ukrainian President. 

It served as a platform for the former comedian to gain popularity and eventually win the Ukrainian presidency against incumbent Petro Poroshenko, in a vote largely driven by anger against the country’s traditional leadership.

The show was immensely popular in Ukraine, while it also aired in a far eastern region of Russia for one night. 

However, in 2019, after a sharp joke directed at Putin, the series was pulled from Russia’s carefully controlled airwaves.

Russian channel TNT quickly edited out the Putin joke in the first season’s premiere, before subsequently cancelling its broadcast of later airings of the 23-episode season.

In the season’s premiere, Zelensky’s character is selecting a new watch that is in keeping with his position as President. 

He is told Putin wears a Hublot.

Zelensky responds: “Putin’s a Hublot?’

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In Russia’s swearing sub-language, known as Mat, the word ‘hublot’ loosely translates to the English word ‘d***’.

The phrase ‘Putin a d***’ became a popular slogan after the Russian President annexed Crimea in 2014, while it can be heard at anti-Putin rallies and seen in graffiti on walls across Ukraine. 

It is unclear whether the joke was enough to cause the show’s cancellation on it’s own as the series features many jokes at the expense of Putin and Russia.

TNT told Russian business paper Vedomosti that it had never planned to air the whole season and that the broadcast was merely a “marketing ploy” for it’s online streaming service, where the episode remained available.

Television has long been a controlled medium in Putin’s Russia, and a number of programmes joking about the President have hastily been booted off air in the past. 

In 2002, the show Puppets, inspired by UK programme Spitting Image, featured a fake version of Putin and was abruptly cancelled.

As the West continues imposing sanctions on Russia and supplying weapons to Ukrainian forces Putin has warned Russia’s neighbours to not escalate tensions. 

On state-run TV, he said: “There are no bad intentions towards our neighbours.

“I would also advise them not to escalate the situation, not to introduce any restrictions. 

“We fulfil our obligations and will continue to fulfil our obligations.”

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