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The arrest of Viktor Medvedchuk, pro-Russian deputy and friend of Putin, a strong symbol for Ukrainians

Oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk, in Kiev, May 13, 2021.

In the photos released by the Ukrainian authorities, he appears in military uniform, looking dejected, with disheveled hair and handcuffs. Pro-Russian MP and businessman Viktor Medvedchuk, 67, was arrested in Ukraine in connection with a “special operation”, While trying to flee the country, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced Tuesday, April 12.

This arrest has a symbolic dimension for the country. Ukraine’s twelfth fortune in 2021 with 570 million euros, according to the magazine Forbes, the oligarch headed the pro-Russian opposition platform For Life, banned after the Russian invasion. He is also a close friend of Vladimir Putin (the Russian president is his daughter’s godfather), of whom he is considered the unofficial representative in Ukraine.

“Putin is definitely angry with Medvedchuk, he finds out today that he misinformed him,” Oleksiy Melnyk, co-director of the Razumkov Center in Kiev

Before the war, Mr Medvedchuk had been charged with “high treason” and “attempted looting of natural resources in Crimea”, the Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014He had been under house arrest since May 2021 and had disappeared a few days after the start of the offensive on February 24. “His arrest has nothing to do with his political orientation, but with the fact that he broke the law”, said Oleksiy Melnyk, co-director of the think tank Razumkov Center in Kiev. The news was celebrated across the country. Dozens of memes immediately appeared on the Internet, made from photos in which he is fascinated.

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“There is no reason to consider him a prisoner of war because he does not meet the criteria of the Geneva Convention. the researcher believes, and he was not a fighter”despite his military uniform. In addition, on this subject, the Ukrainian President has “cynicism” of the businessman. According to him, in “use the camouflage outfit”“He tried to camouflage himself. This is a “warrior”† here’s one ‘patriot’he joked.

Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday proposed to exchange him for Ukrainian prisoners in Russia. “I propose Russia to exchange your husband for our boys and girls who are now imprisoned in Russia. It is therefore important that our law enforcement and military consider this possibility as well. †

“A lot of money for nothing”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not immediately comment on the proposal. “Medvedchuk is not a Russian citizen. He has nothing to do with the special military operation, he is a foreign politicianhe declared. We don’t really know if he wants to involve Russia in solving this problem. †

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