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Ukraine’s Zelensky denies deal to probe Trump’s rival

DPA
Kiev
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denied in an interview published on Monday that there had been a quid-pro-quo deal with US President Donald Trump to investigate Trump’s political rival, Joe Biden.
“I definitely did not speak with US President Trump in such a way, like, ‘you give me this, I give you that,’” Zelensky told the German news magazine Der Spiegel.
Trump is accused of pressuring Zelensky during a July phone call to have Ukraine investigate former US vice president Biden for corruption.
The allegation against Trump is central to an impeachment process against the US president, who is seeking re-election next year.
According to a transcript of the call released by the White House, the US president asked Zelensky to “do us a favour” by investigating Biden, who is now the front-runner among Democrats seeking to run against Trump.
The call came days after Trump had decided to put a hold on military aid to Ukraine, which is fighting Russian-backed rebels in the country’s east, near the Russian border.
Critics point to the sequence of events as proof that Trump was using the power of the presidency to pressure Zelensky into furthering his personal political ambitions in exchange for the military support.
“I do not want Ukraine to be a piece on the chessboard of the great powers,” Zelensky said in the interview.
Zelensky, inaugurated earlier this year, emphasized that Ukraine under his watch has been rooting out corruption, a tenet of his electoral campaign.