The man exchanged for two hundred Kiev soldiers is Putin’s closest ally inside Ukraine. According to American intelligence sources, Viktor Medvedchuk would have been put by the Kremlin at the head of a puppet government in Kiev if the Russian invasion launched on February 24 ended as quickly as Putin hoped by overthrowing the legitimately elected government of Volodymyr Zelensky. Things went differently for the 67-year-old Ukrainian oligarch, but he was eventually reunited with his Russian political godfather. If Putin was ready to hand over two hundred prisoners, including five British volunteers, to Ukraine in exchange for his release, it means that Medvedchuk it is very dear to the supreme leader of Moscow. It is not excluded that he knows things that Putin prefers to keep hidden and also for this reason he has done everything to have it in Russia, rather than leave it in the hands of Ukraine and, potentially, the West that supports it.
A lawyer by profession, Viktor Medvedchuk quickly grew rich during the savage privatization of the economy that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union in Ukraine as well. Chief of staff of Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma from 2002 to 2005, he was later elected deputy to lead the main pro-Russian party in Ukraine. Putin called him a “personal friend” of him. The two were often photographed together at sporting events and demonstrations. The Russian president is even the godfather of Medvedchuk’s daughter. Like many senior members of the Moscow nomenklatura, the latter skilfully mixed business and politics, serving the interests of the Kremlin.
by Gianluca Di Feo
In 2021 he was arrested by the Kiev authorities on suspicion of terrorism and activities against Ukrainian national interests. In February 2022 he managed to escape from house arrest. But two months later he was captured and arrested by Ukrainian forces. He was wearing a Ukrainian camouflage uniform, it is not clear for what purpose. Yesterday he was released, along with 55 Russian soldiers, in exchange for 215 Ukrainian POWs captured by Moscow forces mainly during the siege of Mariupol. Medvedchuk had frequently hosted Putin at his villa in Crimea. His yacht was seized in Croatia after the United States and the European Union placed him on the list of Kremlin-related individuals affected by sanctions.
by our correspondent Corrado Zunino
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Who is Medvedchuk Putin’s ally mistaken for 200 Ukrainian prisoners
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