On Monday night, a leaked recording purporting to be of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko appeared on the video sharing Web site YouTube.
According to the Moscow Times, the recording, apparently made March 8, details a conversation between Tymoshenko and Nestor Shufrych from Ukraine's National Security Council, and has Tymoshenko suggesting that Ukrainians should kill Russians, and, in particular, Russian President Vladimir Putin. The recording, which may have been altered, also apparently features Tymoshenko suggesting that the 8 million Russians living in Ukraine should be killed with "nuclear weapons."
The video containing the recording was initially uploaded to a YouTube account under the name Sergiy Vechirko, and has since been widely shared on pro-Kremlin media outlets, with Russia Today producing its own version with translation:
While the Moscow Times reports that Shufrych has denied the recording is real, a tweet from Tymoshenko appears to suggest she believes at least part of it is:
Розмова була, але про 8 млн росіян в Україні - монтаж. Насправді сказала: росіяни в Україні - це українці.Привіт ФСБ:) Вибачте за нецензурне— Юлія Тимошенко (@YuliaTymoshenko) March 24, 2014
In the above tweet, Tymoshenko says that the recording has been edited, and that she in fact said that the Russians in Ukraine "were Ukrainian." She also added "Hello FSB :)" in reference to Russia's security agency. Tymoshenko, widely considered a potential candidate for the Ukrainian presidential election in May, does not have a reputation for being anti-Russia, which has struck some as strange, and had enjoyed a working relationship with Putin in the past.
The incident is the latest in a series of leaks that appear to show officials involved in Ukraine have been targeted by wiretaps. In February, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland was recorded saying “F--- the E.U." in a private conversation with the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, that was apparently recorded and uploaded to YouTube. Another leaked phone call between Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton appeared to show Paet raise the possibility that snipers who shot dead protesters in Kiev could have been working under orders from Maidan opposition leaders.
While all these calls appear genuine, there are suggestions that they have been presented to appear more controversial than they should: Estonia later released a statement that said: "We reject the claim that Paet was giving an assessment of the opposition's involvement in the violence."