Ukraine Court Orders Pro-Russian Politician Medvedchuk Held Without Bail

By RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service

A Ukrainian court has ordered that Viktor Medvedchuk, the leader of a pro-Russian political party, be held without bail following his recapture by Ukrainian special forces on April 12.

In the April 16 Lychakiv court proceedings, prosecutors noted that Medvedchuk had been arrested and placed under house arrest on January 10 but was discovered to have escaped on February 26.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on April 12 posted a photo on Facebook of a disheveled Medvedchuk -- who has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin -- in handcuffs as he announced his capture.

Zelenskiy later proposed swapping Medvedchuk for prisoners of war being held by Russian forces.

The Kremlin rejected Kyiv's offer, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov telling reporters that "Medvedchuk is not a Russian citizen and has nothing to do with the special military operation [in Ukraine]." He added, though, that Moscow would "undoubtedly follow the fate of Medvedchuk."

Moscow refers to its unprovoked February 24 invasion of Ukraine as a “special military operation.”

Medvedchuk, who led the Opposition Platform-For Life party, which advocated close ties to Russia, was arrested last year on charges of treason and terrorism financing.

The 67-year-old Medvedchuk denies the charges and calls them politically motivated.

Medvedchuk, who tapped Putin to be the godfather of his child, is one of the nation’s wealthiest individuals, with a fortune estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars, including energy assets in Russia.

Ukraine sanctioned Medvedchuk in February 2021, freezing his assets, and took off the air three television stations it said belonged to him for promoting Russian propaganda.

With reporting by Reuters