Putin confidant Viktor Medvedchuk is probably the most outstanding captive launched within the prisoner swap.

Viktor Medvedchuk, probably the most outstanding captive launched by Ukraine in a prisoner swap with Russia, is a detailed buddy of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia who had acted because the Kremlin’s major agent of affect in Ukraine for years.

Mr. Medvedchuk, a Ukrainian politician and oligarch, was handed over alongside Russian pilots and senior navy officers, a high adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky stated on Wednesday, in alternate for greater than 200 Ukrainian fighters together with commanders of the Azov Battalion, who’ve been celebrated as heroes in Ukraine for his or her last-stand protection of Mariupol. It was the most important prisoner swap within the seven-month lengthy struggle.

Russian officers had beforehand disavowed any claims to Mr. Medvedchuk, regardless of his long-known ties to Mr. Putin, who’s the godfather of Mr. Medvedchuk’s daughter. A Kremlin spokesman in Could had dismissed the concept of exchanging Mr. Medvedchuk with Ukrainian fighters, saying that he “has nothing to do with Russia,” in response to Russian state media.

Mr. Medvedchuk was captured by authorities in Ukraine in April after he fled home arrest whereas awaiting trial on treason prices in a case initiated final yr. After his detention, officers in Ukraine additionally seized a few of his huge wealth, amassed by way of vitality offers with the Kremlin whereas working in help of Russian pursuits in Ukraine and past.

On the time of the arrest, Mr. Zelensky posted a photograph displaying Mr. Medvedchuk in handcuffs, trying raveled. “Let Medvedchuk be an instance for you,” the Ukrainian chief stated in a nightly deal with. Even the previous oligarch didn’t escape.”

A former deputy speaker of Ukraine’s Parliament, a presidential adviser and a negotiator in prisoner exchanges with Russia, Mr. Medvedchuk was a polarizing determine in Ukraine who championed a more in-depth relationship with Moscow. His two-decade friendship with Mr. Putin is effectively documented. The Russian president visited Mr. Medvedchuk’s lavish Crimea residence in 2012, and an official Kremlin {photograph} confirmed Mr. Medvedchuk with Mr. Putin at a martial arts match in 2013.

Mr. Medvedchuk’s affect was such that his identify emerged within the federal investigation into Russian meddling within the 2016 U.S. presidential election. He was a consumer of Republican political guide Paul J. Manafort, who suggested pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians earlier than changing into chairman of Donald J. Trump’s election marketing campaign.

On the time, Ukrainian authorities launched entries from an accounting doc displaying that Mr. Manafort had acquired $12.7 million from pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine. In the course of the investigation into Russian meddling in 2017, Reuters reported that the F.B.I. was analyzing cellphone calls and textual content messages between folks near Mr. Trump and other people with ties to Mr. Putin, together with Mr. Medvedchuk.

Mr. Medvedchuk has denied wrongdoing, saying Mr. Manafort solely suggested his political social gathering on electoral technique.

His switch to Russia is more likely to imply he won’t stand trial on prices that he faces in Ukraine, or be interviewed by investigators from different international locations trying into Russian affect peddling.

Mr. Zelensky’s adviser, Andriy Yermak, stated in an announcement that it was a worthwhile commerce and that Mr. Medvedchuk “had already given all of the testimony he might.”

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