Ukrainian prosecutors on Thursday asked a Kiev court to set the bail of prominent pro-Russian lawmaker Viktor Medvedchuk at 300 million hryvnia ($ 10.85 million) or to hold him in a treason case.
Medvedchuk, who promotes closer ties with Moscow and claims President Vladimir Putin is his daughter’s godfather, is widely regarded as Russia’s most important political ally in Kiev.
He was informed this week that he is suspected of treason and attempted looting of national wealth in Crimea, part of Ukraine which Russia annexed in 2014. He says the charges are trumped up for silence his criticism of government policy. Read more
“The prosecutor’s office has filed a petition for the choice of a preventive measure in the form of detention with the alternative of release on bail,” said a statement from the prosecution. The court is expected to deliberate on the matter on Thursday afternoon.
Medvedchuk, who says he has known Putin for decades, gained high political visibility by continuing to hold meetings with the Russian leader after 2014, when Moscow seized and annexed Crimea and supported a separatist revolt in eastern Ukraine .
The Kremlin has said in the past that Putin has great respect for Medvedchuk and values his role as an intermediary with Kiev. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday that Moscow would not interfere in Medvedchuk’s case, but that it “is monitoring this most carefully and would like to make sure that there is no no political motives behind this affair “.
Relations between Moscow and Kiev have been increasingly strained in recent months, with Russia massing additional troops near the border and violence escalating in the unresolved separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine.
The treason case is part of a crackdown on Medvedchuk that began in February when he and several associates were sanctioned by the Ukrainian president and three ally-owned TV stations were kicked out.
($ 1 = 27.6394 hryvnias)
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