Kyiv: Ukraine has told Russia that if it wants the Kremlin’s most high-profile ally to be freed, Moscow will have to release prisoners of war in return. The proposal came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky posted a photo of Viktor Medvedchuk in handcuffs on Facebook.
Medvedchuk, is a businessman and politician seen in Ukraine as one of the top aides of President Vladimir Putin. Medvedchuk was placed under house arrest last year. He disappeared around the start of the Russian offensive, according to local officials.
Zelensky addressed the nation
Zelensky said in a video address to the nation early Wednesday, "I offer to the Russian Federation that if it releases our boys and girls from their captivity, we will release this man of theirs in return. It is therefore important that our law enforcement officers and the military also consider this possibility." Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on Zelensky’s offer.
Who is Medvedchuk?
Medvedchuk is the leader of the pro-Russian opposition Forum – For Life Party, which was banned after the invasion. Medvedchuk’s case of high treason and terrorist financing charges last year was described by Putin as a political case against him. Medvedchuk denied the allegations.
Medvedchuk has been banned by the US since 2014 and his assets in Ukraine were confiscated last year. Zelensky said he had been hiding for weeks before trying to flee the country.