Apr 13, 2022 - World

Zelensky offers to exchange captured Putin ally for prisoners of war

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaking during a press conference in Kyiv on April 9.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaking during a press conference in Kyiv on April 9. Photo: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky offered during a televised address Wednesday to exchange Viktor Medvedchuk, a pro-Kremlin Ukrainian oligarch who was recently arrested, for Ukrainian prisoners of war .

What they're saying: "I offer the Russian Federation to exchange this guy of yours for our boys and our girls who are now in Russian captivity," Zelensky said. "It is therefore important that our law enforcement officials and military also consider this possibility."

  • Zelensky said Medvedchuk, who was placed under house arrest last year on charges of high treason and attempting to plunder state resources but disappeared at the start of Russia's invasion, had been in hiding for 48 days, trying to escape Ukraine.
  • "I think it is especially cynical of him to use military camouflage. He tried to disguise himself like that. Such a 'soldier.' Such a 'patriot,'" he said. "Well, if Medvedchuk chose a military uniform for himself, he falls under the rules of wartime.

The big picture: Medvedchuk and Russian President Vladimir Putin have been friends for years, and the U.S. claimed last year that he was on a shortlist of Ukrainian politicians Russia would like to see replace Zelensky in the case of a coup, the Washington Post reported.

Go deeper: The latest on the Russia-Ukraine crisis

Go deeper