Ukraine arrested pro-Putin politician Viktor Medvedchuk on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said.
Zelensky announced the arrest in a post on his Telegram Tuesday afternoon, adding that further details on the arrest would be announced at a later date. The message came with a photo of Medvedchuk in handcuffs.
“Special operation carried out thanks to the SBU. Good! Details later,” wrote Zelensky. “Glory to Ukraine!”
Medvedchuk is a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he claims is his daughter’s godfather. Details about the arrest were not immediately clear.
Medvedchuk serves as the leader of the Ukrainian Opposition Platform—the For Life party.
“You can be a pro-Russian politician and work for the aggressor for years. You can avoid justice. You can even wear the Ukrainian military uniform. But can you avoid punishment? Never! Handcuffs await you,” the Ukrainian Security Service wrote on Facebook. post after his arrest.
Chairman Ivan Bakanov said, “I thank all the officers of the SBU, in particular, investigators and counterintelligence officers of the Ukrainian special services, who, following the instructions of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, proved their professionalism and carried out this lightning-fast and dangerous multilevel special operation to restrain MP Medvedchuk.”
“No traitor will escape punishment and will be held accountable under Ukrainian Law. For all levels of severity, for all the crimes today, which led to his personal actions,” he added.
He has been under house arrest since last year after authorities opened a treason case against him, but Ukrainian authorities say he escaped house arrest in late February, just days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, Reuters reported.
Ukrainian authorities accuse him of trying to steal state resources in Crimea, a Ukrainian territory that Russia annexed in 2014, according to Reuters.
He admitted that he had to move locations because he received threats from nationalist groups.
Some experts have speculated that Putin might choose Medvedchuk to be Ukraine’s “puppet leader” if the country fell to Russia, a scenario that was unlikely since the early days of the invasion, because of his anti-Western beliefs and close ties to him. putin.
“Even if he wasn’t number one, he might be the real number one, even if they put a few other figures in there,” Jaro Bilocerkowycz, an expert on Ukraine and Russia with the University of Dayton, told Newsweek in February.
As western countries seek to punish the oligarchs linked to Putin for the invasion, his 300-foot mega-yacht, The Royal Romance, was seized in Rijeka bay in March.