Kyiv announces the arrest of Viktor Medvedchuk, a confidant of Vladimir Putin, and offers to exchange him for Ukrainians in captivity.

Ukrainian deputy and businessman Viktor Medvedchuk, who is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and who was recently arrested, could regain his freedom by being the subject of an exchange against Ukrainians detained in Russia. On Tuesday, April 12, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address posted on Telegram:

“I am proposing to the Russian Federation to replace this man with our boys and girls who are currently in captivity in Russia. That is why it is important that our law enforcement and our military take into account this possibility as well. And let Medvedchuk set an example for you. Even the former oligarchy did not get away with it. Not to mention the much lesser criminals in the Russian hinterland. We will have everyone. »

Earlier today, the Ukrainian authorities announced the arrest of the 67-year-old Ukrainian. On February 26, two days after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian police noticed his disappearance during a surveillance visit.

President Zelensky, accompanied by his message with a photo of Viktor Medvedchuk, handcuffed and in uniform of the Ukrainian army:

“A special operation was carried out thanks to the SBU. Encourages!”

Then the Ukrainian intelligence (SBU) confirmed this arrest, without giving details. SBU chief Ivan Bakanov thanked his subordinates for their successful leadership “This exceptional and dangerous mission”.

Already subject to US sanctions

Victor Medvedchuk has been under house arrest since May 2021, after charges were brought against him ” treason “ Based on “An attempt to plunder the natural resources of Crimea”Ukraine, annexed by Russia in 2014.

The Ukrainian businessman had already been targeted by US sanctions since 2014 for undermining the security, territorial integrity and democratic institutions of Ukraine. In February 2021, Kyiv froze its financial assets and closed three pro-Russian television channels, which officially belong to Taras Kozak, but in fact are under the control of the oligarch. The authorities also ordered the nationalization of one of its most important assets, a 1,433-kilometer pipeline, which was previously state-owned.

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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment to Russian news agencies about his arrest“There are a lot of ‘fakes’ coming from Ukraine” and say so This needs to be checked first..

Victor Medvedchuk, twelfth Ukraine’s fortune in 2021, is one of the most powerful men in the country. The oligarch, on top of an estimated fortune of $620 million (512 million euros), according to the magazine. Forbesis known for his relations with President Vladimir Putin, and is, according to the person in question, the godfather of one of his daughters.

A former lawyer who became an energy and agricultural magnate in the 1990s, Viktor Medvedchuk met Vladimir Putin when he was head of the presidential administration of Leonid Kuchma, between 2002 and 2005. A civic organization that fights for Ukraine’s integration into the Russia-promoted customs union.

In 2015, after the signing of the Minsk Peace Accords, he was appointed as Ukraine’s representative for humanitarian affairs, within the working groups created in Minsk. He is responsible for the exchange of prisoners between Kyiv and separatist groups. According to most observers, his appointment came as a result of a request from Vladimir Putin.

Viktor Medvedchuk is the leader of the pro-Russia platform for Life, which has become a party, which had about 30 deputies in the Verkhovna Rada before it was banned in March, after the Russian attack.

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Le Monde and Agence France-Presse

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