Who is Viktor Medvedchuk, the pro-Russia mogul arrested in Ukraine?

Ukrainian tycoon Viktor Medvedchuk, left, speaks to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow in October 2020. (AP)
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Pro-Kremlin Ukrainian opposition politician Viktor Medvedchuk was captured Tuesday by Ukraine’s internal security service after being in hiding for weeks, according to Ukraine’s presidential administration. He had been charged with treason last year and escaped house arrest in February, two days after the Russian invasion, according to the Kyiv government.

In a video message released Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky proposed an exchange of Medvedchuk for Ukrainians held by Russia — an idea that the Kremlin dismissed at a news conference. A photograph released by Zelensky on Tuesday showed Medvedchuk looking disheveled and wearing a military uniform. According to Kyiv, he was dressed as a Ukrainian soldier to disguise himself for his escape.

As the leader of Ukraine’s most prominent Kremlin-friendly party, Medvedchuk has leveraged his proximity to Russian President Vladimir Putin to establish himself as one of Ukraine’s most influential behind-the-scenes political brokers for more than three decades.

Here’s what to know about him.