Kremlin-Friendly Politician Accused of Treason in Ukraine
(Bloomberg) -- Ukraine extended the list of allegations against Kremlin friendly politician and businessman Viktor Medvedchuk, who’s been under house arrest since May over an attempted-embezzlement case.
Prosecutors on Friday said they suspect Medvedchuk of treason and terrorist-financing for helping to broker state coal purchases in 2014 and 2015 from war-torn regions in the nation’s east controlled by Russian-backed fighters.
They also named ex-President Petro Poroshenko and former central bank Governor Valeriya Gontareva. Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said she’ll either seek Medvedchuk’s arrest or demand bail of 1 billion hryvnia ($38 million).
Medvedchuk denies wrongdoing and called the prosecutors’ actions “political repression.”
Gontareva dismissed the accusations as “total and final nonsense,” and said she’s never met Medvedchuk. Poroshenko’s party, known as European Solidarity, said Poroshenko also denied the accusations and that his relationship with Medvedchuk is “an unproved fake.”
“It happened during a serious energy crisis in Ukraine caused by military actions in its east and the seizure of coal mines,” prosecutors said. “Coal contracts with South Africa weren’t functioning at the time, resulting in a lack of fuel and rolling electricity blackouts across the country.”
While President Volodymyr Zelenskiy won office in 2019 promising to lock up corrupt officials, no high-level offenders have been convicted. Medvedchuk, a businessmen who’s been sanctioned by the U.S., is an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Ukraine imposed sanctions on him this year targeting his assets.
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