Presidential offices in Kyiv and Moscow say Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev did not meet in Oman last month, as rumors swirled following a report by the investigative journalism group Schemes (Skhemy), that showed the two officials crossed paths in the Middle Eastern country.
Schemes, a joint project run by RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service and UA:Pershy television, reported on February 13 that Patrushev, a long-time friend and close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, arrived in Oman at night on January 7 aboard a chartered plane which Zelenskiy then used the next day to return to Kyiv.
Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, called the report “a lie from the beginning to the end,” while Zelenskiy’s press secretary, Yulia Mendel, wrote in a post on Facebook on February 14 that it was “hard to deny that some Russian officials fly to Oman,” though the two did not meet.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said any allegations concerning a Zelenskiy-Patrushev meeting are “malarkey” and “a classic example of fake news.”
The Schemes report quoted unnamed sources saying that Patrushev was aboard the plane and that sources had access to the database on the Russian border crossings.
It has not been confirmed officially that Zelenskiy was aboard the same plane when flying from Oman to Ukraine on January 8.
With reporting by RFE/RL’s Russian and Ukrainian services