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Ukraine says it captured close Putin associate

Ukrainian oligarch and close Vladimir Putin associate Viktor Medvedchuk detained by Ukraine, Apr. 12, 2022. (Ukrainian Security Service/Released)
April 12, 2022

Ukrainian forces claimed on Tuesday to have captured Viktor Medvedchuk, a fugitive Ukrainian oligarch, closely associated to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and a target of both Ukraine and U.S. sanctions.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy posted a photo online of Medvedchuk in Ukrainian custody, looking disheveled and wearing a Ukrainian military uniform.

“A special operation was carried out thanks to the SBU. Well done! Details to follow,” Zelenskyy’s post said, according to a translation.

Ukrainian national security agency chief Ivan Bakanov also posted on social media that Medvedchuk had been captured.

“You can be a pro-Russian politician and work for the aggressor state for years. You can hide from justice these days. You can even wear a Ukrainian military uniform for camouflage… But will it help you escape punishment? No way! The shackles are waiting on you. And on the same traitors of Ukraine as you!” the agency’s post said, according to a translation.

“Pro-Russian traitors and agents of the Russian intelligence services, remember – your crimes have no statute of limitations. And hideout wherever we find you!” the post added.

Medvedchuk, one of Ukraine’s richest figures, headed pro-Russian party Opposition Platform – For Life, in which he advocated for closer Russian ties. He supported Russia so much that he named Putin the godfather of his child, the Associated Press reported.

Ukrainian authorities arrested Medvedchuk in 2021 on charges of treason and financing terrorism. He was placed on house arrest ahead of the trial, while the country sanctioned him, froze his assets and shut down three television stations he ran.

The judge in Medvedchuk’s case allowed him to post bail and lift house arrest. He fled shortly after Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. and was discovered missing from his home when police checked on Feb. 26.

He has denied charges against him, which he called politically motivated. Putin had previously called the charges political persecution and vowed to “respond,” according to Moscow Times.