Ukrainian authorities on Tuesday announced they had captured a prominent pro-Kremlin tycoon who escaped from house arrest after Russia’s invasion.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy posted a picture online of a dishevelled-looking Viktor Medvedchuk with his hands in cuffs and dressed in a Ukrainian army uniform.
“A special operation was carried out by the Security Service of Ukraine. Well done!” Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram.
Security agency chief Ivan Bakanov said agents had carried out a “lightning-fast and dangerous multi-level special operation to detain” the Russia-friendly lawmaker.
“No traitor will escape punishment and all will be held accountable under the law of Ukraine,” a statement on Telegram said.
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Medvedchuk, one of the richest people in Ukraine, is a hugely controversial figure for his close ties to Moscow.
The 67-year-old business tycoon counts Russian President Vladimir Putin among his personal friends and says the Kremlin leader is godfather to his youngest daughter Darya.
He was being held under house arrest since last year on treason charges over accusations of attempting to steal natural resources from Russia-annexed Crimea and of handing Ukrainian military secrets to Moscow.
Medvedchuk reportedly fled shortly after Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
Police said they did not find him at his home address on February 26, and announced that he was missing a day later.
Kyiv’s crackdown on Medvedchuk had sparked anger in the Kremlin, with Putin vowing at one stage to “respond” to what he called a political persecution.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to comment on Medvedchuk’s detention, telling Russian news wires that “there are a lot of fakes coming from Ukraine” and “this needs to be checked first”.
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