Ukraine Captures Personal Putin Ally Who Had Been On The Run


A wealthy Ukrainian political leader who is closely allied to Russian President Vladimir Putin has been captured by Ukrainian officials after apparently escaping the house arrest he’d been under following the opening of a treason case against him in Ukraine. The individual in question is Viktor Medvedchuk, who — as explained Tuesday by BBC-affiliated journalist Myroslava Petsa — “was Putin’s key ally in Ukraine. He controlled 3 pro-[Russia] TV stations that were later shut down. In 2021 he was charged with treason, [and] was facing up to 15 years in prison if convicted.” As previously reported by Reuters, Medvedchuk was “facing accusations of treason and attempting to plunder state resources in Crimea,” and Ukrainian interior ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko originally reported Medvedchuk’s apparent escape from house arrest in late February, shortly after Russia launched its invasion.

Journalist Christo Grozev described Medvedchuk as a “fugitive oligarch,” adding: “At the start of the invasion, pro-Kremlin channels were spreading the rumor that Medvedchuk had been extracted to Russia by the [Russian] Spetsnaz. The fact he was left to be captured by Ukraine will be one more major egg on Putin’s face.” Back when the wealthy Putin ally’s escape from house arrest was first reported, Medvedchuk’s lawyer Larysa Cherednychenko originally explained the Putin ally’s movements as attempts to evade threats to his life. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy shared an image of Medvedchuk in handcuffs on the occasion of the political leader’s apparent re-capture, stating that further details would be shared at some later point.

Medvedchuk was apparently involved with Russian attempts to take over Ukraine. In January — before Russia invaded Ukraine, the U.S. Treasury Department stated that “Russia has directed its intelligence services to recruit current and former Ukrainian government officials to prepare to take over the government of Ukraine and to control Ukraine’s critical infrastructure with an occupying Russian force. At the heart of this effort are Taras Kozak (Kozak) and Oleh Voloshyn (Voloshyn), two current Ukrainian Members of Parliament from the party led by Victor Medvedchuk (Medvedchuk), who is already subject to U.S. sanctions for his role in undermining Ukrainian sovereignty in 2014. Medvedchuk maintains close ties with the Kremlin, and also took part in directing these activities.” On a related note, the Ukrainian news outlet known as The Kyiv Independent also recently reported on the Ukrainian government seizing a total of 10 Russian ships worth more than $34 million. Around the world, authorities have cracked down on Russian assets amid attempts to hold Putin and his cronies financially accountable for the devastation in Ukraine.

Despite Russia’s strategic setbacks, the scope of the destruction in Ukraine is staggering — and growing. Tens of thousands of people are believed to have died in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which had a population in the hundreds of thousands before the war but has been relentlessly attacked by Russian forces for weeks — attacks that have decimated the sprawling city and left its residents who remain trapped without access to critical necessities like running water. Donetsk-area Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said between 20,000 and 22,000 people had died in Mariupol, although the information is preliminary rather than confirmed.