Volodymyr Zelensky late on Tuesday revealed that Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk, a pro-Russia oligarch and close friend of Vladimir Putin, had been detained after fleeing house arrest during Russia’s invasion of the country.
“A special operation was carried out thanks to the SBU [state security service,]” Ukraine’s president said in a Telegram post.
The post included a photograph of Medvedchuk sitting in a chair, wearing a Ukrainian army camouflage uniform, with his hands cuffed.
“Well done! Details later. Glory to Ukraine!,” Zelensky said in the post.
The SBU, which posted another photo of Medvedchuk in handcuffs, said in a statement:
“You can be a pro-Russian politician and work for the aggressor state for years. You may be hiding from justice lately. You can even wear a Ukrainian military uniform for camouflage . . . But will it help you escape punishment? Not at all! Shackles are waiting for you. Just as for the same kind of traitors of Ukraine as you!”
Medvedchuk was detained in a “lightning-fast and dangerous multilevel special operation”, SBU chief Ivan Bakanov said in the statement, but the details of how he fled and where he was detained were not immediately clear.
A years-long personal friend of Putin who has said Russia’s president is godfather to one of his children, Medvedchuk was arrested last year on treason charges, including of divulging military secrets to Moscow.
A member in Ukraine’s parliament, Medvedchuk was sanctioned by the US for his malign pro-Russian influence in 2014 after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and fomented a proxy separatist war in the eastern Donbas region.
Medvedchuk’s pro-Russian television channels were shut down by Zelensky’s administration.