Ukrainian politician and oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk, who is the godfather of Russian President Vladimir Putin, appeared in an American investigation into Russian interference in the US presidential election due to links with Paul Manafort
Source: The New York Times
Details: Accused of treason and captured in Ukraine after escaping from house arrest, Medvedchuk emerged in a US publication as "an influential figure in Ukraine with potential knowledge of Russian interference in the United States elections, although for years he strongly denied this ".
Medvedchuk is a close confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin and was also a client of Republican political consultant Paul Manafort.
The New York Times notes that in Ukraine, Medvedchuk is accused of buying coal from "pro-Russian separatists" and treason, but "more broadly, he is associated with a whirlwind of financial and political intrigues around Moscow's operations to influence politics in foreign countries" .
Medvedchuk is linked to Russian interference in US elections due to ties to Manafort. He did not play a major role in the special counsel's report or in the two federal trials of Manafort.
Manafort worked for ten years as a consultant for Ukrainian politicians committed to Russia, including Medvedchuk's party, before becoming head of Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.
Medvedchuk said in 2017 that Manafort advised the party on its poll-based election strategy, attended a party conference ahead of parliamentary elections, and allegedly approved the party's pro-Russian policies for elections in southern and eastern Ukraine.
At the time, Medvedchuk said that Manafort supported the need to adhere to positions of "economic integration with Russia" in order to get votes in Russian-speaking regions.
Manafort resigned from the Trump campaign in August 2016 after Ukrainian authorities released black-book entries from the Party of Regions showing that the American consultant received $12.7 million from pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine in an illegal scheme.
In 2017, an investigation into Russian interference began in the United States - and Medvedchuk's name emerged as one of several pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians close to both Manafort and Putin.
Reuters reported that year that the FBI and investigators were investigating 18 phone calls and text messages between people close to Trump and people associated with Putin, including Medvedchuk.
Medvedchuk denied wrongdoing.
The publication notes that if Medvedchuk is extradited to Russia for the return of Ukrainian prisoners, it is not known whether he will testify and whether the investigation will be interested in his role in American politics, or the investigators will focus on his role in Ukrainian politics.
Since May 2021, Medvedchuk has been under house arrest on suspicion of treason and attempted plunder of national resources (oil and gas) in the occupied Crimea, since October also on suspicion of treason and facilitating the activities of a terrorist organization through coal purchase schemes in ORDLO.
5 days before Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Medvedchuk's wife Oksana Marchenko left for Belarus, then posted a video from Moscow. On February 21, property was taken out of Medvedchuk's mansion in Kyiv. On February 27, it became known that Medvedchuk had escaped from house arrest.
The search for the fugitive deputy was carried out by a special group of the Security Service together with prosecutors. The Office of the Prosecutor General assured that Medvedchuk had not fled abroad.
On March 18, 2022, the court allowed Medvedchuk to be arrested in absentia.
On April 12, it became known about the detention in Ukraine of Viktor Medvedchuk, who escaped from house arrest in February and tried to leave Ukraine in April. First, a photograph of Medvedchuk in military uniform and handcuffed appeared on the telegram channel of President Volodymyr Zelensky. Then the details of the SBU special operation appeared.
Zelensky offered Russia to exchange Medvedchuk for Ukrainian citizens who are held captive by the Russian military, and Ukrainian law enforcement agencies to consider such a possibility.