Putin’s ‘grey cardinal’ captured in Ukraine – but who is Viktor Medvedchuk? – Mark Stone

Medvedchuk was a member of Ukraine’s parliament and a former leader of the pro-Russia For Life political party. He was placed under house arrest in May 2021 and had his assets frozen by President Zelenskyy who accused him of financing acts of terrorism.

His detention, for treason, was one of a number that caused unease in Western counties at the time with Zelenskyy being accused of silencing critics in a democracy.

It’s a criticism that faded as Zelenskyy emerged as Ukraine’s democracy-defending wartime president.

Medvedchuk escaped his house arrest shortly after the Russian invasion was on the run for 48 days. Zelenskyy has not revealed where or how he was captured but has said he wants to offer him to Russia in exchange for Ukrainian prisoners.

“I offer this guy of yours in exchange for our boys and girls,” Zelenskyy said.

It’s an ironic twist for a man whose role for years was negotiating his own prisoner swaps.

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