KIEV, May 12. /TASS/. A prominent Ukrainian politician, the Opposition Platform - For Life (OPFL) party leader Viktor Medvedchuk was named as a suspect in a high treason case on Tuesday.
Searches were held at the party’s headquarters in the Ukrainian capital Kiev and in Medvedchuk’s house. Simultaneously, Prosecutor General of Ukraine Irina Venediktova said she had signed papers indicting two lawmakers over suspicions of treason and attempted plundering of national resources. Later, Venediktova disclosed that the criminal case involved three episodes: handover of classified data, handover of a gas field in the Sea of Azov to Russia, and sabotage by establishing an organization for recruitment of Ukrainians in Russia.
Medvedchuk described the charges as political persecution, stressing that he would stay in Ukraine and seek justice.
Searches and criminal case
On Tuesday afternoon, Ukrainian media reported that law enforcement officers were searching Medvedchuk’s house in Kiev. Almost immediately after the reports were published, Prosecutor General of Ukraine Irina Venediktova said she had signed papers to file charges against two lawmakers, whom she identified only by the first letters of their second names - M and K. Shortly after, Ukrainian parliamentarian from the European Solidarity Party of former President Pyotr Poroshenko, Alexey Goncharenko, wrote on his Telegram channel that these first letters implied parliamentarians Viktor Medvedchuk and Taras Kozak.
Later it became known that the headquarters of the Opposition Platform - For Life (OPFL) party were also searched. Later, party member and lawmaker Ilya Kiva said the search was carried out at Medvedchuk’s office as well. "I have no idea of what they are trying to find there. This is part of the government’s attempt to put pressure on Viktor Medvedchuk," Kiva said.
On Tuesday evening, the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine confirmed that charges were filed against Medvedchuk and his fellow party member Taras Kozak.
Shortly after, Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) head Ivan Bakanov said Ukrainian law enforcement suspected Medvedchuk of handing over classified information about locations of the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) to lawmaker Taras Kozak, who was in Russia at the moment.
According to Ukraine, the data was intended for the Russian intelligence. "Speaking about Kozak, he is in the Russian Federation at present <...> but, regretfully, has no plans of returning to Ukraine," Bakanov said.
In a Facebook post, SBU later said the criminal case against Medvedchuk and Kozak was launched into suspected "subversive activities against Ukraine."
Late on Tuesday, the chief of staff of the Ukrainian president’s administration, Mikhail Podolyak, said "Medvedchuk and his accomplices will have to face investigation and trial, as envisaged by the law."
Repressions and lawlessness
The Opposition Platform - For Life party said the searches and charges were "an act of revenge and persecution against the chair of the political council of the country’s biggest opposition party."
Besides, party member and lawmaker Ilya Kiva said Medvedchuk had no plans to leave Ukraine. "Don't even count on it, Viktor Vladimirovich Medvedchuk is in the country," he told reporters.
Medvedchuk’s statement was published by his party’s official website on Tuesday night. In the statement, the opposition leader once again described the searches as illegal and futile. He said the criminal case against him was "political persecution" for his views.
"I declare that I remain on the territory of Ukraine and have no plans to evade justice. I will keep taking part in legitimate investigative procedures and will seek justice for myself and all Ukrainian voters who entrusted me with the lawmaker’s mandate," he said.
Earlier, Medvedchuk repeatedly accused the Ukrainian government of intimidating him and other opposition members in an attempt to crack down on all opposition in the country. In February, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky signed a decree to impose sanctions against Medvedchuk and his wife Oksana Marcheko, on charges of financing terrorism. Medvedchuk dismissed those accusations as slander.