War in Ukraine: The arrest of Viktor Medvedchuk, Putin’s man in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin with pro-Russian Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk in Saint Petersburg, July 18, 2019. (© SPUTNIK / AFP / Archives / Mikhail KLIMENTYEV)

Ukrainian Viktor Medvedchuk, who was arrested by the country’s special services when he was on the run from the Russian invasion, is a man Vladimir Putin In Ukraine, where he defended the interests of his friend Kremlin For more than 20 years.

Handcuffed, shaggy hair, in Ukrainian military uniform, sitting in a chair in what looks like an old desk: the millionaire, Once one of the most influential men in the country, He only appears to overshadow himself in the photo he posted on Tuesday evening by the president Volodymyr Zelensky.

This undated, unidentified photo released by the Ukrainian Security Service on April 12, 2022 shows Viktor Medvedchuk in handcuffs and wearing a Ukrainian army uniform.
This undated, unidentified photo released by the Ukrainian Security Service on April 12, 2022 shows Viktor Medvedchuk in handcuffs and wearing a Ukrainian army uniform. (© Security Service of Ukraine / AFP / Archives / Handout)

“Prince of Darkness”

The announcement, on Tuesday evening, of the arrest of this deputy, one of the most hated politicians in Ukraine, especially because of his connections to the master of the Kremlin, caused an explosion of joy on social media.

“It happened symbolicIt’s like taking Goebbels,” commented AFP Sergey Leshchenko, advisor to President Zelensky’s chief of staff, referring to the former head of propaganda for Nazi Germany.

formerly nicknamed “Prince of Darkness” By the media, “He was the man who received direct instructions and resources from Putin to prepare the ground for the invasion,” asserts Mr. Leshchenko.

President Zelensky offered to replace her with Ukrainians captured by Russian forces, but the Kremlin evaded the idea.

According to Mr. Medvedchuk, his relationship with Vladimir Putin “developed over 20 years”. “I don’t want to say I’m taking advantage of this relationship, but it’s part of my political arsenal,” he told Time magazine in 2021.

The two men met in the early 2000s: Vladimir Putin, a former KGB member who had just been elected president of Russia, and Medvedchuk, a lawyer suspected of being an unofficial collaborator of the KGB, who then headed the Ukrainian president’s office.

Putin’s deputy in Ukraine

He is accused in this position of organizing in 2004 Extensive electoral fraud In favor of pro-Russian, leading to the first Maidan, pro-Western uprising.

At the end of 2013, the second pro-Western revolution erupted in Kyiv which led to the downfall of a pro-Russian president. A month later, Russia annexed Crimea, and war broke out with Moscow-backed separatists in the east of the country.

Discreet, Mr Medvedchuk takes advantage of this by joining the peace talks and ends up entering Parliament in 2019, after 15 years without a formal political job.

Publicly supported by Moscow, the opposition “Life Tribune” party came second in the legislative elections after that of President Zelensky.

Russian President Vladimir Putin with pro-Russian Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk in Vladivostok on September 5, 2019.
Russian President Vladimir Putin with pro-Russian Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk in Vladivostok on September 5, 2019. (© SPUTNIK / AFP / Archives / Mikhail KLIMENTYEV)

treason

But in February 2021, the horizon began to darken for Medvedchuk, Ukraine’s twelfth fortune last year at $620 million according to Forbes magazine.

President Zelensky bans by decree three of his television channels, the trumpets of Russian propaganda. Then the authorities announced the confiscation of the assets of the Medvedchuk family, including the oil pipeline that transports Russian oil to Europe.

In May 2021, he was charged with “high treason” in the context of the Russian-Ukrainian diplomatic crisis. He is accused of possession Real estate in the Crimea, But it also invested in 2014 in a Russian refinery that was supplying fuel to the separatist Donbass forces.

Medvedchuk’s placement under house arrest infuriates Putin, who denounces “political purges”.

“Medvedchuk was Putin’s deputy, A man of confidence has, his eyes and ears in Ukraine, which broadcasts messages from Moscow “through the media, summarizes Sergoish Leshchenko.

Russian coat of arms

The last public snapshot of Putin and Medvedchuk dates back to October 2020.

Born in Siberia on August 7, 1954, Victor Medvedchuk returned with his family to Ukraine in the 1960s.

After studying law, he took on the role of defender of many Ukrainian opponents, but in particular his critics accused him of doing nothing to prevent the new imprisonment of the famous poet Vasyl Stoss, due to anti-Soviet activities, who died in the Gulag at 47 years old.

I already hit him US sanctions For his role in the annexation of Crimea, the United Kingdom sanctioned Mr Medvedchuk on Wednesday.

After Mr. Medvedchuk’s escape, Ukrainian media discovered at his residence near Kyiv a life-size train carriage richly decorated in gold, velvet and bearing the Russian coat of arms, apparently a birthday present from his wife, TV presenter Oksana Marchenko, who had fled to Russia.

On the “platform” next to the clock, the name of the station “Dalnyaya” (distant in Russian) appears.

Source: © 2022 AFP

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