Kremlin rejects idea of exchanging Ukraine’s Putin ally

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The Kremlin on Wednesday rejected the idea of exchanging a controversial Kyiv ally of Kremlin strongman Vladimir Putin for Ukrainians detained by Russia.

Lawmaker and businessman Viktor Medvedchuk, one of Ukraine’s richest people, is known for his close ties to Putin and says the Russian leader is godfather to his youngest daughter, Darya.

Ukrainian authorities announced Tuesday they had captured Medvedchuk, 67, who escaped from house arrest after Russia sent troops to the pro-Western country on February 24.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy offered to swap him for Ukrainians captured by Russia.

But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Medvedchuk had “nothing to do with the special military operation.”

“He is a foreign politician,” he told reporters, adding that the Kremlin was not aware if Medvedchuk wanted Moscow to be involved.

“Medvedchuk has never had any behind-the-scenes relations with Russia,” Peskov said, implying that he would otherwise have left Ukraine before Moscow sent in troops.

Medvedchuk is a hugely controversial figure because of his close ties to Moscow.

He had been under house arrest since 2021 on treason charges over accusations that he tried to steal natural resources from Russia-annexed Crimea and hand Ukrainian military secrets to Moscow.

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