Ukraine's Tymoshenko says 'wipe out Russians' tape is montage
KIEV - Agence France-Presse
Picture taken on March 6, 2014 shows Yulia Tymoshenko, leader of Ukraine's Batkivshchyna Party, addressing the media during a press conference. AFP PhotoUkraine's former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko on Tuesday denounced as a montage a tape broadcast by Russian state television where she is heard urging the "wiping out" of Russians and President Vladimir Putin.
Tymoshenko, a hugely controversial figure in her own country and also in Russia who was released from jail after the fall of president Viktor Yanukovych, confirmed the voice was hers but said the comments had been manipulated.
"This really crosses all the boundaries," Tymoshenko is heard to say in the leaked phone call posted on YouTube and broadcast extensively Monday evening on Russian television. "One has to take up arms and go wipe out these damn 'katsaps' together with their leader," the voice said in Russian, without mentioning President Putin by name.
The word 'katsap' is a derogatory Ukrainian term for Russians.
During the conversation, Tymoshenko is said to discuss Russia's seizing of Ukraine's Russian-speaking peninsula of Crimea with Ukrainian MP and former government official Nestor Shufrych.
Tymoshenko, who spent three years in jail on what her supporters say were politically motivated charges before being freed last month, said if she were in power Moscow would not be able to take the peninsula.
"I am sorry that I am not able to be there and am not in charge of these processes, they wouldn't have had a fucking chance of getting Crimea off me."
"I would have found a way to finish off these bastards."
"I am hoping that I will use all my connections and will get the whole world to rise up so that not even scorched earth would be left of Russia."
Discussing the fate of Ukraine's 8 million ethnic Russians, Tymoshenko was also heard saying that they should be "nuked."
Tymoshenko confirmed the authenticity of the phone call but said the passage about 8 million Russians was a "montage."
"In fact I said: 'Russians in Ukraine are Ukrainians. Cheers to FSB," she said, referring to the Russian security service who she clearly believes were behind the bugging of the phone call.
"Apologies for the expletives," she added.
Tymoshenko is heard speaking Russian. The ex-premier puts huge emphasis on speaking only Ukrainian in public even though she grew up speaking Russian.
In February, a leaked phone call was posted on YouTube and broadcast on Russian state television in which Washington's top diplomat in Europe, Victoria Nuland, was heard swearing about the EU's handling of the Ukraine crisis.
Washington has said at the time that Russian special services were behind the leak which was accompanied by Russian-language captions.