Will Putin give up his imprisoned ally Viktor Medvedchuk in a Ukrainian prison?

News that Ukraine captured Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest ally in Ukraine, oligarch and opposition politician Viktor Medvedchuk, received furious condemnation from Kremlin officials and made waves on state media.

Medvedchuk, one of Ukraine’s richest men, escaped house arrest on charges of treason days after the Russian invasion. His final capture was announced by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday.

“I propose that the Russian Federation replace this guy with our boys and girls who are now in Russian captivity,” Zelensky said in a video address published on Telegram. Medvedchuk was handcuffed and tattered, dressed in heart fatigue with a Ukrainian flag mark – a disguise worn to flee the country, according to Ukrainian officials.

Medvedchuk boasts close ties to Putin and was seen in Ukraine as a means of communication with the Kremlin, while also playing a mediator in prisoner-of-war exchanges between Ukraine and Russian-backed militants in eastern Ukraine. Medvedchuk has been regularly photographed with Putin, who is said to be his daughter’s godfather.

Despite their close ties, the Kremlin does not appear to be committing to a prisoner exchange to help get Putin’s close friend out of prison.

The reason? Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov pointed out that Medvedchuk is a Ukrainian citizen: “As for the exchange that various people in Kiev talk about with such passion and joy, Medvedchuk is not a citizen of Russia and has nothing to do with the particular military. He is a foreign politician. ” He added that Moscow has “no idea” whether Medvedchuk himself would want such an exchange.

Since no one can predict what Putin would like to do with regard to his ally, state television experts turned to their usual tactic: portraying the captured refugee as a person who was wrongfully detained and brutally tortured in Ukraine.

“You can see that Medvedchuk was bathed and photographed in a hurry,” Olga Skabeeva, host of the state television program 60 minutes, claimed Wednesday. The pictures clearly show that the man was tortured … This torture apparently lasted for about a month. “

“These are ISIS methods,” added her co-host Evgeny Popov. He was furious at Zelensky’s offer to trade Putin’s allies for the captured Ukrainian soldiers: “For decades, all Ukrainian politics, the entire Ukrainian economy has been based on camaraderie.” The remark only brought the irony of such a statement to the forefront, due to the great influence of Putin’s circle of oligarch cronies on Russia’s economy and politics.

In a statement on Medvedchuk’s arrest, Ukraine’s security service, SBU, said: “You can be a pro-Russian politician and work for the aggressor state for years … You can even wear a Ukrainian military uniform for camouflage. But it will help you escape punishment? Not at all! Hoops are waiting for you, and so are traitors to Ukraine like you. “

Medvedchuk was closely linked to Ukraine’s TV channels 112 Ukraine, Zika and Newsone, which were shut down last year due to allegations that they broadcast Russian disinformation. He reportedly made millions by buying a stake in a Russian oil refinery in the mining town of Novoshakhtinsk at an artificially low price. Medvedchuk bought a majority stake in the refinery under the name of his wife, TV star Oksana Marchenko, in an apparent attempt to avoid US sanctions.

On Wednesday, Marchenko issued a video call to President Zelensky demanding his husband’s immediate release. She claimed that her husband did not violate any laws and did not leave Ukraine, and accused the authorities of detaining him for political motives. Marchenko wore a headscarf and also appealed to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which was broadcast on Russian state television.

In a Telegram post, Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council and former Russian president, weighed in on the capture.

“These freaks, who call themselves the Ukrainian authorities, say they want to beat a testimony of Viktor Medvedchuk ‘quickly and fairly’, convict him and then swap him out with prisoners,” he said. Medvedev doubled his statement with an obvious threat: “These people should be careful and lock the doors well at night to make sure they do not become the people to be exchanged themselves.”

Looking up at Medvedchuk’s picture on the jumbo throne during the broadcast of 60 minutesViktor Baranets, a former military spokesman who is now a columnist for the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravdacomplained about his shabby appearance: “He is being held captive for no reason at all, but for harassing a person in this way, for driving him to such a state and publicly talking about it, shows that the morale of the Ukrainian president is rotten. ”

Dmitry Egorchenkov, director of the Institute for Strategic Studies and Forecasts, claimed that the whole catch was “artificially staged”, and the catch happened a long time ago: “He was gone for 48 days, now they pulled him out and claimed they just caught him. ”In an attempt to screw up the drama, Egorchenkov threw out a surprising comparison:” When I see the staged images with Medvedchuk, the first thing that comes to mind is Saddam Hussein. “

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