Vladimir Putin’s “right hand man” in Ukraine was arrested after fleeing house arrest following the Russian invasion nearly two months ago.
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President Volodymyr Zelenskyy last night released a picture of a “disheveled” Viktor Medvedchuk, a Kremlin-affiliated oligarch known as the “Gray Cardinal,” who “wears handcuffs and is dressed in army uniforms with a Ukrainian flag patch.” The guard reported.
Zelenskyy said the arrest came after a “special operation” by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), adding in a video address: “I propose to the Russian Federation to exchange this guy of yours for our boys and our girls who are now there.” are in Russian captivity.”
Medvedchuk, who has said Putin is his daughter’s godfather, was appreciated by the Ukrainian magazine focus to have a fortune of $460 million (£353.8 million), making him the 57th richest man in Ukraine. Experts describe him as Putin’s closest ally in the country.
Originally a lawyer best known for defending dissidents during Soviet show trials, he “grew up rich from Russian oil interests and its proximity to the Kremlin,” reported The Guardian. He then founded the Opposition Platform – For Life in 2018, a Ukrainian political party that “pursued a pro-Moscow agenda.”
In 2014 the White House said he used his “resources or influence to assist or act on behalf of senior Russian government officials” during the annexation of Crimea. He was sanctioned by the US in relation to one earlier this year alleged conspiracy to install a pro-Kremlin government in case of a successful Russian invasion.
In May 2021, he was indicted on charges of treason in Ukraine over charges of “selling military secrets to Russia and exploiting Russia’s natural resources Crimea under Russian occupation‘ added The Guardian. He denied the allegations and was under house arrest until successfully escaping in the early days of the invasion.
Putin is known “as a close personal friend” of the oligarch, Politically called. But his close ties to the Kremlin mean Zelenskyy has overseen a “crackdown” on Medvedchuk’s political activities since he was “elected president on a pro-Western platform in 2019.”
In February 2021, the president imposed sanctions on him and “ordered three Russia-affiliated TV channels believed to be owned by the oligarch to be taken off the air for allegedly promoting anti-Ukrainian propaganda,” the website reported.
After the Russian invasion, Zelenskyy also suspended his party, along with a number of other political parties and organizations with close ties to the Kremlin.
fall from grace
For decades, Medvedchuk “was tolerated in Ukrainian political circles because he was seen as an important channel of communication with the Kremlin.” BBC reported. But his treason charges and Putin’s invasion hampered his ability to conduct his political operations.
The Kremlin said yesterday it had seen the picture of Medvedchuk shared by Zelenskyy. Putin’s Dmitry Peskov said the photo will be checked because “now so many fakes are coming out of Ukraine” that “everything needs to be checked”.
After his arrest, the SBU said in a statement: “You can be a pro-Russian politician and work for the aggressor state for years. You may have been hiding from justice lately. You can even wear a Ukrainian military uniform for camouflage.
“But will it help you escape punishment? Not at all! Shackles await you, and the same goes for traitors to Ukraine like you.”
His original arrest for treason “angered Putin, who threatened to respond to what he saw as political persecution,” The Guardian said. And his arrest will now be a “deep blow” to the Russian President, The New York Times added.
Medvedchuk has been seen as the “Kremlin’s main agent of influence in Ukraine” in recent years, the paper said, meaning his arrest could dramatically affect Russia’s ability to destabilize the government in Kyiv in the years after the conflict.
https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/world-news/russia/956415/who-is-viktor-medvedchuk-vladimir-putin-right-hand-man-ukraine Viktor Medvedchuk: Vladimir Putin’s “right hand man” captured in Ukraine