Conflicts & War

Putin-ally in Ukraine prison asks Russia to swap him for Mariupol defenders

Kyiv, Apr 18 (EFE).- Viktor Medvedchuk, a prominent Ukrainian opposition politician and a friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, currently in the custody of the Ukraine authorities, has asked the two warring countries to exchange him for defenders and residents of the besieged city of Mariupol.

The Ukraine security service released Medvedchuk’s video on Monday, urging Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky to consider the exchange proposal.

“I would like to address President Zelensky and President Putin with a proposal to exchange me for defenders and residents of Mariupol, who remain in the besieged city without safe access to humanitarian corridors,” he says in the video, released by the state-run Ukrinform news agency.

Medvedchuk was arrested on Apr.12.

The Ukrainian authorities seized his 154 properties after the suspension of his party in parliament.

Zelensky announced his arrest, sparking criticism from the Kremlin.

The Ukrainian president suggested a prisoner swap idea shortly after his arrest.

The request for the exchange came a day after Russia issued an ultimatum to Ukrainian troops in Mariupol, asking them to surrender or die. The deadline expired on Sunday.

It is estimated that some 100,000 citizens remain trapped in the strategic port city as evacuation became impossible due to the closure of humanitarian corridors.

City police sources said thousands of civilians were braving Russian bombing as they remain holed up in the Azovstal steel plant.

Some 2,400 Ukrainian soldiers, the last defenders of Mariupol, are also allegedly inside the steel factory.

The strategic city on the coast of the Sea of ​​Azov came under Russian bombardment from the Day 1 of the invasion on Feb.24.

Medvechuck jumped a court’s house arrest order on that day as he tried to flee.

The 67-year-old oligarch is charged with high treason for revealing state secrets, having business in the annexed Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, working for Russia, and having ties with Putin.

The Ukrainian authorities earlier posted a photo on the Telegram network of the politician in handcuffs and dressed in military clothing with a Ukrainian flag badge.

In the video, he is seated behind a table and speaking to the camera in the civies. EFE


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