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Putin ally 'prince of darkness' Viktor Medvedchuk captured in Ukraine

Today’s Ukrainian news sites are dominated by one image

Last night, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine posted an Instagram photo showing a disgraced, handcuffed man in his 60s dressed in army camouflage.

He’s called Viktor Medvedchuk and is a key character in the story about Ukraine’s recent political history.

Ukraine news: Zelenskyy offers Putin a deal after capturing his friend

Image Viktor Medvedchuk being detained by security personnel in an unknown location in Ukraine

Ukrainian politician, Mr Medvedchuk. Vladimir Putin is a friend to him. He chose to be the godfather of one of his daughters by choosing Mr Putin.

His nicknames include “the grey cardinal” of Ukraine and “the prince in darkness”. He has been a key backdoor politician in Ukraine for many decades, close to Russia, and a one-time power broker, as Ukraine charted its future without Russia, or as he hoped.

Moscow’s proximity to Mr Medvedchuk made him a prominent figure even among Ukraine’s pro-Western governments, who saw him as an arbiter in dealings with Vladimir Putin.

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He maintained in interviews throughout the years that he did not agree with Putin’s assessment of Ukraine and Russia as one nation.

However, it is claimed that Putin thought the Ukraine problem unsolvable without Mr Medvedchuk.

He was the conduit between Moscow, Kyiv, and the architect of the failed Minsk agreements to broker peace with Ukraine’s eastern regions.

Image Viktor Medvedchuk was the former leader of a proRussian party in Ukraine

However, a large portion of the Ukrainian population was skeptical of him.

Forbes estimated that Forbes’ wealth was $620m (PS476m) in 2021. Forbes doesn’t know how much of his fortune came from Russia, but he had enough money to start three television stations.

All were shut down by President Zelenskyy, who accused them all of spreading pro-Russian propaganda.

He was a member in Ukraine’s parliament, and a former leader for the pro-Russian Opposition Platform For Life party. In May 2021, President Zelenskyy placed him under house arrest and ordered his assets to be frozen. He accused him of financing terrorist acts.

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His arrest for treason was one of many that caused concern in Western countries at that time. Mr Zelenskyy was accused of suppressing critics in a democracy.

This criticism faded when Mr Zelenskyy was elected president of Ukraine, defending democracy.

After the Russian invasion, Mr Medvedchuk was released from his house arrest and fled for 48 days.

Although Mr Zelenskyy did not reveal where or how he was taken, he said that he wanted to trade him for Ukrainian prisoners.

“I offer you this man in exchange for our boys or girls,” Mr Zelenskyy stated.

Ironically, this is a twist for a man who for many years was responsible for negotiating prisoner swaps.


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