Viktor Medvedchuk: The Pro-Russian Power Broker in Ukrainian Politics

Viktor Volodymyrovych Medvedchuk is a Ukrainian business oligarch and politician. He has lived in exile in Russia since 2022 after being given to Russia in a prisoner exchange. Medvedchuk is a pro-Russian and a personal friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He first met with Putin in 2003, during Medvedchuk’s period as Head of Ukraine’s Presidential Administration. Surprisingly, in 2004, Putin became godfather to Medvedchuk’s youngest daughter, Darya. In 2019, Putin acknowledged that he was the godfather of Medvedchuk’s daughter. 

Medvedchuk was served as People’s Deputy of Ukraine on 29 August 2019. He performed as the chairman of the pro-Russian political organization Ukrainian Choice. He is a critic of Ukraine joining the European Union. In 2022, Medvedchuk was put under sanctions by the US, who blamed him for involvement in a maneuver to set up a collaborator government in the wake of a Russian invasion. 

Further, he was Sanctioned by the UK government in 2022 concerning the Russo-Ukrainian War. At the beginning of the Russian invasion, 24 February 2022, some experts expected that Putin may have wanted to seat Medvedchuk as president of Ukraine if the Russian military captured Kyiv. Medvedchuk also managed to prevent the removal of Illia Kyva from the parliamentary faction of the Opposition Platform, as Kyva had expressed his public support for the Russian invasion.

In 2021, the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine placed Medvedchuk and his spouse, Oksana Marchenko, on the sanctions list due to financing of terrorism. It was said that he was pushing money from his Kremlin-based refinery to the separatists of the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine. Moreover, the Prosecutor General of Ukraine indicted Medvedchuk of treason and attempted looting of national resources in Crimea, which had been illegally annexed by Russia but remains internationally recognized as Ukrainian. Medvedchuk’s house arrest began on 13 May 2021.

Medvedchuk escaped this house detention on 28 February 2022, four days after the 2022 Russian attack on Ukraine, and remained missing. On 8 March 2022, he was expelled from the post of co-chairman of the Opposition Platform. On 12 April 2022, again Medvedchuk was apprehended by the Security Service of Ukraine. 

In December 2013, he met with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, and then Medvedchuk publicly started to “oppose” pro-European protesters in Ukraine. In a 2018 discussion with The Independent, Medvedchuk argued that the US was interfering in the affairs of what he called the “brotherly” nation  Russia. He asserted that Russian President Vladimir Putin desired peace in Donbas and that Putin would do everything to rescue eastern Ukrainians from repressions from Ukraine’s “party of war.” He said that the US, NATO, and the EU are providing weapons to Ukraine, which he resisted.

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