Ukrainian prisoner swap friend of Putin

Ukrainian prisoner swap friend of Putin

Viktor Medvedchuk, the most prominent captive released by Ukraine in a prisoner swap with Russia, is a close friend of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia who had acted as the Kremlin's primary agent of influence in Ukraine for years.

A Ukrainian politician and oligarch, Medvedchuk was handed over to Russian pilots and senior military officials in exchange for more than 200 Ukrainian fighters, including commanders of the Azov Battalion, who have been celebrated as heroes in Ukraine for their last stand in defense of Mariupol, a top adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday. It was the largest prisoner swap in the seven-month long war.

Russian officials had previously disavowed any claims to Mr. Medvedchuk despite his long-known ties to Mr. Putin, who is the godfather of the daughter of Mr. Medvedchuk. According to Russian state media, a Kremlin spokesman rejected the idea of exchanging Mr. Medvedchuk with Ukrainian fighters, saying he has nothing to do with Russia.