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War in Ukraine: Arrest of Putin’s Husband Viktor Medvedchuk in Ukraine

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

Ukrainian Viktor Medvedchuk, arrested by the country’s special services while fleeing the Russian invasion, is the husband of Vladimir Poutine in Ukraine, where he defended his friend’s interests Kremlin For over 20 years.

Handcuffed, disheveled hair, in Ukrainian military uniform, sitting on a chair in what looks like an old office: the multimillionaire, once one of the most influential men in the country, looks just a shadow of himself in the photo published by the president on Tuesday evening Volodymyr Zelensky.

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

“Prince of Darkness”

Tuesday night’s announcement of the arrest of this deputy, one of the most hated politicians in Ukraine, especially for his ties to the Kremlin master, sparked an explosion of joy on social networks.

“It’s an event symbolicit’s like catching Goebbels,” said AFP Serguiï Lechchenko, adviser to President Zelensky’s chief of staff, referring to the former head of propaganda for Nazi Germany.

former nickname “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,” Mr. Lechtchenko.

President Zelensky offered to exchange it for Ukrainians captured by Russian forces, but the Kremlin evaded the idea.

According to Mr Medvedchuk, his relationship with Vladimir Putin “has developed over 20 years”. “I don’t want to say I exploit 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, had just been elected president of Russia, and Mr. Medvedchuk, a lawyer suspected of having been an unofficial KGB collaborator. was then head of the President’s Office.

“Vice Putin” in Ukraine

In this position he is accused of organizing in 2004 massive election fraud in favor of a pro-Russian, who caused the first Maidan, a pro-Western uprising.

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

Discreetly, Mr Medvedchuk takes advantage of it by taking part in the peace talks and lands in parliament in 2019, after 15 years without official political office.

Openly backed by Moscow, his opposition party Platform – For Life came second in the parliamentary elections, behind President Zelensky’s party.

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/Archive/Mikhail KLIMENTYEV)

high treason

But in February 2021, the horizon begins to darken for Medvedchuk, Ukraine’s 12th fortune last year with $620 million according to Forbes magazine.

President Zelensky bans three of his television channels, mouthpieces of Russian propaganda, by decree. Authorities then announce the seizure of the Medvedchuk family’s assets, including an oil pipeline carrying Russian oil to Europe.

In May 2021, he was charged with “high treason” in the context of the Russian-Ukrainian diplomatic crisis. He is charged with possession of real estate in Crimea, but also to have invested in 2014 in a Russian refinery that supplied fuel to the separatist troops of Donbass.

The placing of Medvedchuk under house arrest infuriates Putin, who denounces “a political purge”.

“Medvedchuk was Deputy Putin, his man of confidence, his eyes and his ears in Ukraine, who broadcast messages from Moscow “through his media,” summarizes Serguiï Lechtchenko.

Russian weapon

The last public snapshot of Putin and Medvedchuk is from October 2020.

Viktor Medvedtchouk, born on August 7, 1954 in Siberia, returned to Ukraine with his family in the 1960s.

After law school, he took on the role of defender of several Ukrainian dissidents, but is accused by his opponents in particular of having done nothing to avoid another prison sentence for anti-Soviet activities of the famous poet Vassyl Stous, who died in the Gulag in 47 years.

Already touched by US sanctions Mr Medvedchuk was also sanctioned by the United Kingdom on Wednesday for his role in the annexation of Crimea.

After Mr Medvedchuk fled, Ukrainian media discovered on the grounds of his residence near Kiev a life-size train carriage richly decorated with gilt and velvet and bearing the Russian coat of arms, apparently a birthday present from his wife, TV host Oksana Marchenko. who fled to Russia.

On the “platform” next to the clock, the name of the station “Dalnyaya” (far in Russian) is displayed.

Source: © 2022 AFP

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