A Ukrainian politician who has close links to Russian President Vladimir Putin has now been released. Viktor Medvedchuk has been freed by Ukraine as part of the prisoner swap deal.
It's claimed that Putin wanted to install Medvedchuk as a puppet president of Ukraine following the war. The pro-Russian politician is released under the prisoner swap that saw Azov battle commanders and 10 foreign nationals released.
Medvedchuk Was Arrested In April
Medvedchuk was arrested in April weeks after he fled the house arrest in Kyiv. He is the chairman of Ukraine's "Opposition Platform - For Life" party.
According to a Ukrainian official, Russia has freed over 200 Ukrainians who were taken prisoner following the battle in Mariupol.
Medvedchuk Used Military Camouflage To Hide
Andriy Yermak, the head of President Volodymyr Zelensky's office, confirmed that the freed prisoners include the commander and deputy commander of the Azov battalion.
Medvedchuk, who has been hiding for 48 days, was detained on Cosmonautics Day in April. Zelensky revealed that Medvedchuk had decided to leave Ukraine. "Well, for this "astronaut" - in the bad sense of the word - the famous "Let's go!" did not work.
Medvedchuk Is One of The Richest People In Ukraine
Zelensky was angered that it was cynical of him to use military camouflage as Medvedchuk had tried to disguise himself as a soldier. He also stressed that Medvedchuk has fallen under the rules of wartime as he chose to wear the military uniform. The lawmaker is one of the richest people in Ukraine.
Medvedchuk Was Putin's Best Choice For Zelensky's Position
Medvedchuk, who is a hugely controversial figure because of his close ties to Moscow, had been under house arrest since 2021 on treason charges over accusations that he tried to steal natural resources from Russia-annexed Crimea and hand Ukrainian military secrets to Moscow, according to Daily Mail.
Medvedchuk was believed to be Putin's potential choice as Ukraine's new head of state by replacing Zelensky as he is so close to the Russian President. At the beginning of the invasion, Moscow had plans to forcefully remove pro-West Zelensky from power and replace him with a puppet leader, who is a pro-Russian. Medvedchuk had been the best choice the Kremlin could consider about as he has also been a supporter of pro-Russian separatist forces in eastern Ukraine.