Russia adds Zelensky to criminal ‘wanted’ list, Ukraine calls it ‘desperation’

Russia has added Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to its list of wanted criminals, a move Kiev dismissed as a sign of Moscow’s “desperation.”

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Zelensky’s name appeared Saturday on the Russian Interior Ministry’s “wanted” list, an online database of alleged criminals wanted by Russian authorities.

It said the Ukrainian leader was wanted “under an article of the criminal code,” without giving further details.

There was no immediate comment from Russian officials on why Zelensky was added to the list.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said the decision “shows the desperation of the Russian state machine and propaganda, which have no idea what else to come up with to attract attention.”

Moscow has targeted Zelensky since the start of the Russian military offensive in Ukraine in February 2022.

The Ukrainian president said last year that he was aware of at least “five or six” assassination attempts against him that had been foiled.

The day after sending troops into Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a speech to the country urging the Ukrainian military to overthrow Zelensky.

Russia has placed several foreign politicians and public figures on its wanted list, which contains tens of thousands of entries.

The commander of the Ukrainian Land Forces, Oleksandr Pavliuk, and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko also appeared in the online database on Saturday.

In February, Moscow said it was seeking Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas over what the Kremlin said was the “desecration of historical memory” over the Baltic country’s attempt to destroy Soviet-era monuments.

read moreThe Kremlin puts the Baltic leaders on the ‘wanted’ list because they challenge their worldview

Last year, the International Criminal Court ordered Putin’s arrest on war crimes charges related to the kidnapping of Ukrainian children – charges rejected by Moscow.