MP, businessman, and close friend of Vladimir Putin. Ukrainian security services captured Viktor Medvedchuk, whom they now want to use to free their prisoners in Russia.
“I offer the Russian Federation to exchange this man for our men and women who are currently in captivity in Russia,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address. He also posted a photo of Viktor Medvedchuk in handcuffs, dressed in a Ukrainian army uniform.
Close to Vladimir Putin
If Volodymyr Zelensky is trying to haggle, it’s because Viktor Medvedtchouk is not just anyone. At 67, this Ukrainian MP is one of Vladimir Putin’s main supporters. He is the founder of the pro-Russian party “Opposition Platform – For Life”, which had around 30 members in the Ukrainian Parliament before being banned during the Russian invasion.
Viktor Medvedchuk is also considered a personal friend of Vladimir Putin. He has been photographed several times by his side, and the Russian head of state is the godfather of one of his daughters.
Thanks to his proximity to Moscow, Viktor Medvedchuk made his business profitable. It invests mainly in oil. He thus became the twelfth fortune of Ukraine, with 620 million dollars, according to Forbes magazine.
Charged with “high treason”
Since May 2021, Viktor Medvedchuk has been under house arrest. He was accused of selling military secrets to Russia and of exploiting the natural resources of Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014. He is therefore charged with “high treason” and “attempted looting of natural resources in Crimea”.
Two days after the start of the Russian invasion, Ukrainian authorities found Viktor Medvedchuk missing. He remained on the run for several weeks, before finally being caught by the security services. Details of the operation are not known.
“Let Medvedchuk be an example for you,” Volodymyr Zelensky warned. “Even the former oligarch did not escape. Not to mention the far lesser criminals of the Russian hinterland. We’ll have everyone.”