A helicopter and an aeroplane belonging to Viktor Medvedchuk and his family have been seized by the Ukrainian authorities and handed over to the Armed Forces.
The Department of Strategic Investigations of the National Police of Ukraine said in a statement obtained on Wednesday, 6th July: “A helicopter and an aeroplane belonging to the Medvedchuk family were handed over for the needs of the Armed Forces.”
They said that this occurred within the framework of an investigation into Medvedchuk for “abuse of power” and other crimes and that the “Chief Investigative Department of the National Police seized the helicopter and aircraft used by the family of Victor Medvedchuk.”
They added that the confiscated plane and helicopter had been “handed over for the needs of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”
Victor Medvedchuk, 67, is a pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarch and politician who served as a Member of the Ukrainian Parliament and who is opposed to Ukraine joining the European Union.
He is considered to be an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin is the godfather of Medvedchuk’s youngest daughter and it is believed that Putin may have planned to install him as the President of Ukraine, had he managed to take Kyiv during the early stages of the invasion.
After Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, 24th February, Medvedchuk was quickly placed under sanctions by the United States. He escaped house arrest on 27th February, before being apprehended by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) on 12th April.
The request for the plane and helicopter to be seized came from the Prosecutor General’s Office, according to a statement obtained from the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs. It said: “At the request of the General Prosecutor’s Office, the property was seized.”
The statement from the Office of the Prosecutor General also accuses Medvedchuk of abuse of power, and of abusing his power to take possession of property unlawfully.
The Prosecutor General also said that they had seized other assets that were registered in the name of Medvedchuk’s wife, Oksana Marchenko, 49, who is suspected of “high treason”. Marchenko, a former model and TV presenter, used to host X-Factor Ukraine and Ukraine’s Got Talent.
These assets include a luxury estate called Vedmeja Dibrova that, it is believed, actually belongs to Medvedchuk. It is located in the village of Zhdeniievo, in the Volovets Raion of the Zakarpattia Oblast region, in western Ukraine.
Russia invaded Ukraine on 24th February in what the Kremlin is calling a “special military operation”. Today marks the 134th day of the invasion.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported that between 24th February and 7th July, Russia had lost about 36,650 personnel, 1,602 tanks, 3,797 armoured combat vehicles, 815 artillery units, 247 multiple launch rocket systems, 107 air defence systems, 217 warplanes, 187 helicopters, 667 drones, 155 cruise missiles, 15 warships, 2,665 motor vehicles and fuel tankers, and 66 units of special equipment.
Russian forces are intensifying their attacks in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine. Civilians are fleeing Sloviansk as Russian forces push towards the city. This comes after the Donetsk regional governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko, urged 350,000 civilians to evacuate the area.
British intelligence has said that the battle for Sloviansk will probably be the next key target for Russian forces. The UK Ministry of Defence said that Russian forces “from the Eastern and Western Groups of Forces are likely now around 16 kilometres north from the town of Sloviansk. With the town also under threat from the Central and Southern Groups of Forces, there is a realistic possibility that the battle for Sloviansk will be the next key contest in the struggle for the Donbas.”
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that heavy weapons from Ukraine’s western allies have finally started working at “full capacity” on the frontlines, with Ukraine’s General Staff denying Russian claims that two US-supplied HIMARS light multiple rocket launchers had been destroyed. They instead said that the weapons were being used to inflict “devastating blows” on the invading forces.
Luhansk’s regional governor Serhiy Haidai has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of carrying out a scorched earth policy, “burning down and destroying everything on their way” as resistance remains strong in villages around the city of Lysychansk, which recently fell to Russian forces.
The Russian parliament is rushing through two new bills to impose strict controls on the country’s economy and require that businesses supply the armed forces.
The United Nations has said that nearly 9 million people have now left Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s invasion. Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova has said that the country is investigating over 21,000 Russian war crimes committed since the beginning of the invasion.
A court in Russia has ordered the suspension of Kazakh oil exports to the West for a month. Russia controls the Novorossiisk Black Sea oil terminal where tankers are loaded with oil that transits, via a pipeline, from Kazakhstan’s Tengiz oilfield. Western sanctions have restricted Russia’s oil and gas exports, increasing demand for producers like Kazakhstan.
But the President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, has refused to recognise the pro-Russian, so-called People’s Republic of Donetsk and the People’s Republic of Luhansk, in eastern Ukraine, and has also said that Kazakhstan might increase its oil exports to the European Union.