Putin’s loyal friend in the Ukrainian cell: this is Viktor Medvedchuk

Viktor Medvedchuk was born on August 7, 1954 in Pochet, a city in the middle of the Russian state of Siberia. The family lives there after the exile of Father Volodymyr, for his help to the Nazis during World War II.

In the mid-1960s, the family returned to Ukraine, which was still part of the Soviet Union at the time. After working as a mail sorter and police officer, he graduated from the Shevchenko University Law School in Kiev in the late 1970s.

godmother daughter

It became really exciting only at the beginning of this century in Putin’s first years as president. Medvedchuk is the head of the Ukrainian president’s cabinet and often meets with Putin on official occasions. During this period, Ukraine relied heavily on Russia for cheap gas and even cheaper loans.

In order to strengthen the friendship between the two, Medvedchuk and his wife are asking Putin to become the godfather of their daughter Diari. writes Time in an elaborate portrait of the oligarch.

After the 2014 revolution, the bond between the two is only getting closer. Ukraine is focusing on the West, which Medvedchuk strongly opposes. He does it politically, with his opposition party Ukrainian Choice.

And he also gets support from Putin, he admits. “I’m not saying I’m taking advantage of our friendship, but it could be said that it’s part of my political arsenal,” Medvedchuk said in an interview with Time about his friendship with the Russian president.

US sanctions

According to the US government, it doesn’t stop there. In March 2014, Medvedchuk was their list of sanctions published. Reason? Its role in endangering the peace, security, stability, sovereignty or territorial integrity of Ukraine. Together with ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, he will be further punished for undermining Ukrainian democracy.

That close friendship with Putin was shown that same year at the first Russian Grand Prix ever, in Sochi. Medvedchuk is sitting on the podium next to Putin, next to actor Steven Seagal, writes The New York Times.

The oligarch is not talking about his ties to the Russian president. “You know, those who talk about it are just jealous of me,” he said in a 2016 interview. RadioFreeEurope / RadioLiberty.

Sanctions and house arrest

In addition, Medvedchuk uses his connected TV stations to spread Russian propaganda. That is one of the reasons why Ukraine will impose harsh sanctions on him in February 2021. reports Reuters† According to Ukrainians, the 67-year-old Russian is financing terrorism.

The move is an escalation of already tense relations between the two neighboring countries, says RTL correspondent Nieuws Eva Hartog. They see the Kremlin’s address to Medvedchuk as a personal attack on Putin.

Putin’s regime is built on personal relationships, Hartog says. “They are very important to Putin. People in high positions are not there because of what they can do, but because he trusts them.”

Be the first to visit Putin

And Putin trusts Medvedtsyuk. In October 2021, after being vaccinated with the Russian vaccine against the crown, Medvedev will be the first to visit Vladimir Putin again. Until then, Putin had lived in strict seclusion during the Crown pandemic for fear of getting sick.

For Putin, Medvedchuk is the ideal man in Ukraine, Hartog says. The two are equally thinking about Ukraine’s position: strongly focused on Russia, without its own course. “He is an extension of Putin in Ukraine.”

In Ukrainian politics, the oligarch fulfills the role of Putin’s personal messenger. Putin is believed to appoint Medvedchuk as president if the invasion of Ukraine succeeds, Hartog said. “Or get a role behind the scenes.”

Slap Putin in the face

And that’s also why Zelensky is hitting the oligarch so hard. Shortly before the war broke out, Medvedchuk was placed under house arrest on suspicion of treason. “Slap Putin,” Hartog describes the Ukrainian government’s move.

Shortly after the war began, Medvedchuk fled, despite police at the door and an ankle bracelet. With a ‘lightning and dangerous special operation’, the Ukrainian secret service managed to capture him again this week, SBU chief Ivan Bakanov reports on Facebook† “Even if you wear a Ukrainian uniform, you can’t escape your punishment.”

The importance of Medvedstyuk can also be deduced from Zelensky’s triumphant response. “For him, it is a kind of trophy, the embodiment of Russia in Ukrainian politics,” says Hartog. The arrested Russian is worth a lot, for example as a means of exchange for free Ukrainian prisoners of war.

The only question is whether it will work, says Hartog. So far, Medvedchuk’s arrest has been used for his own propaganda, she notes.

She expects Putin to react, just like the first time Medvedchuk was arrested. “There will be answers, there must be if so personal.” But he wonders if that is the reaction Zelenski hopes for. The Kremlin is facing a clear choice: “Will Putin support him or is it a priority not to lose face?”

And then the latter could be the deciding factor. “Putin is not allowed to be blackmailed, he just gets even angrier if you press him. He does that to the bull like a red rag,” Hartog says. – They won’t give him lectures.

By hunting Medvedchuk, Zelensky is also challenging Putin, she explains. – It’s a very dangerous game.

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