Image:Viktor Medvedchuk is the former leader of a pro-Russian party in Ukraine
But significant portions of the Ukrainian public were deeply sceptical of him.
In 2021, Forbes estimated his wealth to be $620m (£476m). How much of that fortune came from the Kremlin isn’t known but he did have enough cash to set up three TV stations.
There were all shut down by President Zelenskyy who accused them of spreading pro-Russian propaganda.
Mr Medvedchuk was a member of Ukraine’s parliament and a former leader of the pro-Russian Opposition Platform For Life political party. He was placed under house arrest in May 2021 and had his assets frozen by President Zelenskyy who accused him of financing acts of terrorism.
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His detention, for treason, was one of a number that caused unease in Western countries at the time with Mr Zelenskyy being accused of silencing critics in a democracy.
It’s a criticism that faded as Mr Zelenskyy emerged as Ukraine’s democracy-defending wartime president.
Mr Medvedchuk escaped his house arrest shortly after the Russian invasion and was on the run for 48 days.
Mr Zelenskyy has not revealed where or how he was captured but has said he wants to offer him to Russia in exchange for Ukrainian prisoners.
“I offer this guy of yours in exchange for our boys and girls,” Mr Zelenskyy said.
It’s an ironic twist for a man whose role for years was negotiating his own prisoner swaps.
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