Medvedchuk no longer to participate in prisoner negotiations
Viktor Medvedchuk, the head of the political council of the Opposition Platform For Life party, will no longer participate in the Minsk peace talks as Ukraine’s representative to negotiate prisoner exchanges, Yevhen Marchuk, Ukraine’s representative to the Trilateral Contact Group, told BBC News in an interview published on Dec. 4. Medvedchuk had served as the designated representative of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) in the prisoner exchange subgroup of the contact group. The talks haven’t produced an exchange since Dec. 27, 2017.
Medvedchuk said he serves as a personal mediator between Presidents Poroshenko and Putin, who is godfather to his daughter, in a March interview with the BBC. Medvedchuk traveled to Moscow 21 times this year despite forbidden air travel between the two countries, according to a November television news report by the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). Medvedchuk has also met with Poroshenko on a weekly basis this autumn, both at the Presidential Administration and at his residence, the RFE/RL report said.
Zenon Zawada: The Presidential Administration’s official explanation for Medvedchuk’s frequent meetings with Poroshenko this fall, including at his residence, is that they were discussing prisoner exchanges. Yet these talks have stalled since the summer, being entirely halted in early November. And now Medvedchuk is no longer involved in these negotiations, which indicates that their meetings were a waste of time, that is, if they occurred for the alleged reason.
We believe Medvedchuk’s close Kremlin ties were positive for Ukraine in achieving prisoner exchanges, and they will be harder to achieve without him. We think he was removed from his position after a Nov. 22 RFE/RL television report exposing close interactions between Poroshenko and Medvedchuk behind the scenes, which they tried to keep secret. In our view, this is an attempt by Poroshenko to sever ties with Medvedchuk, even indirect ties, ahead of the elections.
We believe it’s possible Medvedchuk and Poroshenko were colluding to cooperate for the 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections. We think Yuriy Boyko, the Opposition Platform’s presidential candidate, is willing to play the fall guy in the presidential vote in exchange for the president’s backing in gaining a large parliamentary faction in the October vote. We also believe it’s possible that Medvedchuk has been helping Poroshenko in dealing with Putin behind the scenes, perhaps for state matters. It can’t be ruled out that he helped with personal business matters either.