May 13, 2021

Ukrainian government tags Kremlin-friendly politicians Medvedchuk and Kozak with suspicion of high treason

SBU conducts search of Medvedchuk’s Kyiv home

KYIV – The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has searched the Kyiv home of Kremlin-friendly tycoon and politician Viktor Medvedchuk, who along with another pro-Russian Ukrainian lawmaker, Taras Kozak, is under suspicion of treason.

SBU officials told RFE/RL that the search was conducted on May 11, adding that detailed information on the case will be made public later.

Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Iryna Venedyktova said the same day that she had signed notices of suspicion to be handed to two lawmakers, whom she identified as M. and K., as suspects for alleged high treason and the illegal exploitation of natural resources in Ukraine’s Russian-annexed Crimea.

Local media identified M. as Mr. Medved­chuk and K. as the other pro-Russian lawmaker, Mr. Kozak.

Mr. Medvedchuk’s political party said the treason investigation and house search were acts of “revenge and reprisals” by the government.

“Such actions by the authorities are an open and cynical political reprisal against the opposition politician,” the pro-Russian Opposition Platform – For Life party added in a statement on its website.

Mr. Medvedchuk is the head of the political council of Opposition Platform – For Life, which is the largest opposition group in Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada. He is one of the party’s 44 deputies in the 450-seat legislature.

In February, Ukraine’s National Security Council announced sanctions against Mr. Medvedchuk, his wife Oksana Marchenko and several other individuals and entities.
The sanctions froze the couple’s assets for three years and prevented them from doing business in the country.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelens­kyy’s government in February also sanctioned three television stations believed to be owned by Mr. Medvedchuk. The move came shortly after talks between U.S. Secre­tary of State Antony Blinken and Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

Mr. Medvedchuk has a deep personal relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is the godfather of Mr. Medvedchuk’s daughter.

He was sanctioned by the United States in 2014 for undermining democracy in Ukraine.
The sanctions were tied to an investigation into exports of coal to Russia from a separatist-held region in eastern Ukraine.

Fighting between Ukrainian government forces and the Russia-backed separatists who control parts of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions has killed more than 13,000 people since April 2014.

Russia annexed Crimea in March 2014 and instigated separatist clashes in Ukraine’s east after anti-government protests toppled Ukraine’s Russian-friendly former president, Viktor Yanukovych, in February 2014.

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