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On May 13, a Ukrainian court placed pro-Kremlin oligarch and lawmaker Viktor Medvedchuk under round-the-clock house arrest pending trial for high treason. The country’s Prosecutor General had signed off on the charges two days earlier, indicting not only Medvedchuk, but also his closest ally and fellow lawmaker, Taras Kozak, in connection with three episodes of illegal activity.
Both politicians belong to Opposition Platform — For Life, a pro-Russian opposition party that holds 44 seats in the Ukrainian parliament. But Medvedchuk is perhaps best known for his murky business dealings and personal ties to Vladimir Putin (the Russian president is said to be the godfather of Medvedchuk’s youngest daughter).
The treason charges came a few months after the Ukrainian authorities imposed sanctions on Kozak and Medvedchuk for allegedly financing terrorism. As part of these sanctions, Kozak’s three pro-Russian television channels were taken off the air. The Ukrainian authorities also sanctioned Medvedchuk’s wife and froze the couples’ assets for three years.
Medvedchuk has denied all of the allegations, claiming that the charges are politically motivated. That said, prosecuting Medvedchuk coincides with other steps the Ukrainian government is taking to combat corruption and oligarchic influence. Moreover, this is happening at a time when President Volodymyr Zelensky appears to be changing his stance on Russia and his approach to resolving the conflict with Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine’s east.
To discuss Viktor Medvedchuk’s Kremlin ties and his place in the Ukrainian political landscape, as well as what the Zelensky government is doing to combat oligarchic influence in Ukraine, “The Naked Pravda” turned to independent journalist and disinformation researcher Olga Tokariuk, a freelance correspondent in Kyiv for the Spanish EFE news agency.
“The Naked Pravda” comes out on Saturdays (or sometimes Fridays). Catch every new episode by subscribing at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or other platforms. If you have a question or comment about the show, please write to Kevin Rothrock at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: “The Naked Pravda.”