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Ukraine widens probe against Kremlin ally Medvedchuk

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KYIV, Oct 8 (Reuters) – Ukrainian prosecutors stated on Friday that they had widened an investigation into pro-Russian lawmaker Viktor Medvedchuk, accusing him of colluding with senior officers to finance separatist forces within the japanese Donbass area.

In May, authorities put Medvedchuk, the Kremlin’s most outstanding ally in Ukraine, below formal suspicion of treason as a part of a crackdown on his circle that has fuelled tensions between Kyiv and Moscow. learn extra

Law enforcement officers on Friday accused Medvedchuk of colluding with officers through the earlier administration of Petro Poroshenko to purchase coal from mines in separatist-held areas as a means of financing the separatists.

“We are talking about the sale of state interests and the financing of Russian terrorists,” Ivan Bakanov, the top of the state safety service (SBU), informed a joint briefing with Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova.

Poroshenko’s occasion referred to as the accusations a smokescreen to divert consideration from the federal government’s personal wrongdoing.

Medvedchuk’s Opposition Platform — For Life occasion on Friday stated the newest accusations confirmed the “complete helplessness” of prosecutors in failing to substantiate earlier accusations against him.

In an announcement, the occasion accused President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s authorities of making an attempt to “divert people’s attention from their catastrophic failures.”

During the prosecutors’ briefing, they performed recordings of phone conversations during which folks with voices supposedly much like these of Medvedchuk, Russian officers and separatist leaders, mentioned coal provide schemes.

Ukraine confronted an acute gas scarcity after separatists seized territory the place coal mines have been situated. Prosecutors accused Medvedchuk of colluding with state officers to dam coal purchases from the worldwide market.

“While our soldiers were being killed at the front, the state sent suitcases of cash to the leaders of terrorist organisations,” Venediktova stated.

Ukraine has been at battle with Russian-backed separatists within the Donbass area since 2014.

Venediktova stated prosecutors would ask the courtroom to arrest Medvedchuk or set bail of 1 billion hryvnias ($38 million).

Medvedchuk, whose political occasion is the second largest in parliament, is a Ukrainian citizen however has shut ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin and has stated the Russian chief is godfather to his daughter.

Bakanov stated the SBU would examine what half Poroshenko and the Central Bank Governor on the time, Valeriia Gontareva, might have performed in Medvedchuk’salleged actions.

Gontareva, who left Central Bank in 2018 and lives overseas, dismissed Bakanov’s statements as “nonsense”.

“I have never had anything to do with Medvedchuk, whom I have never seen in my life, nor with the financing of terrorism, nor with the purchase of coal or electricity,” she stated in an announcement to Reuters.

Reporting by Pavel Polityuk and Natalia Zinets, further reporting by Ilya Zhegulev; enhancing by Matthias Williams and John Stonestreet

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Viktor Medvedchuk, leader of Opposition Platform - For Life political party, attends a court hearing in Kyiv, Ukraine May 13, 2021. Ukrainian prosecutors put Medvedchuk under formal suspicion of treason and the attempted plundering of national resources in Crimea, the territory that was annexed by Russia in 2014. REUTERS/Serhii Nuzhnenko/File Photo

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