Kremlin leaves captured Putin ally Viktor Medvedchuk out to dry, saying Russia doesn’t want to exchange prisoners for him
Jake Epstein – April 13, 2022
- Moscow denied a Ukrainian offer to swap a captured Putin ally for prisoners.
- Viktor Medvedchuk, a Ukrainian politician, was captured by Ukraine’s security service on Tuesday while fleeing house arrest.
- Medvedchuk chaired a pro-Russian political party and is thought to have been Putin’s pick to replace Zelenskyy as a puppet leader.
Russia shot down Ukraine’s offer to swap captured Kremlin ally Viktor Medvedchuk for Ukrainian prisoners, seemingly cutting ties with the oligarch who has close personal connections to Putin.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday that Medvedchuk is “not a citizen of Russia” and has nothing to do with President Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation,” Interfax reported.
“He is a foreign political figure,” Peskov said. “We don’t know at all whether he himself wants some kind of participation on the part of Russia in resolving this libelous situation against him.”
Ukraine’s security service on Tuesday said it captured Medvedchuk while he was trying to flee the country, after escaping from house arrest in February. The Ukrainian tycoon faced treason charges.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy offered Russia the chance to swap kidnapped Ukrainians for Medvedchuk, who chairs a pro-Russian opposition political party.
Putin and Medvedchuk are close allies. The two have reportedly gone on vacation together and Putin is the godfather of Medvedchuk’s youngest daughter.
Medvedchuk — who was thought to be Putin’s choice to serve as a puppet leader to replace Zelenskyy if the Ukrainian government was toppled — also has an estimated net worth is $620 million.
Medvedchuk was sanctioned by the Obama administration for undermining democracy in Ukraine after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.
Translations by Nikita Angarski.