Close friend and key ally of Vladimir Putin, Viktor Medvedchuk – a Ukrainian pro-Russian oligarch – has been arrested by Ukrainian forces, President Zelenskyy announced. The Ukrainian President wants to trade him for Ukrainian prisoners of war.
Medvedchuck had been on the run for more than a month, having fled in February after being released on bail for charges of treason and financing terrorism.
The oligarch led Ukraine's largest pro-Russian party, calling for closer ties to Moscow; he is one of Ukraine’s wealthiest people. Medvedchuk has close ties with Putin, who is also the godfather of his daughter. The pair have often been on vacation together.
He was arrested wearing military clothing, which Zelenskyy described as an attempt to disguise himself as a soldier. This would make Medvedchuk subject to the laws of wartime.
Zelenskyy has proposed to trade Medvedchuk for Ukrainian prisoners of war. "I propose to the Russian Federation to exchange this man of yours for our boys and girls who are now in Russian hands," he said on Telegram.
67-year-old Medvedchuk denies the charges and calls them politically motivated, while Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov declined to comment on the arrest.