Viktor Volodymyrovych Medvedchuk (Ukrainian: Віктор Володимирович Медведчук; born 7 August 1954 in Krasnoyarsk, Russian SFSR, USSR) is a Ukrainian politician, lawyer, and business oligarch. Currently Medvedchuk is chairman of the pro-Russian political organization Ukrainian Choice and an opponent of Ukraine joining the European Union. Russian president Vladimir Putin is the godfather of Medvedchuk's daughter Darina (born in 2004). Medvedchuk and his party have marginal popular support in Ukraine.
Medvedchuk's father, Volodymyr Medvedchuk, avoided being drafted into the Red Army during the Great Patriotic War due to his suffering from Pott disease. During Nazi Germany's occupation of Ukraine, he worked for the German administration in a labor camp from April 1942 to November 1943. The section provided enforced deportation of the local able-bodied Ukrainian youth to work in Nazi Germany. After the retreat of German forces Volodymyr Medvedchuk was arrested by SMERSH on 7 August 1954 and sentenced to eight years of imprisonment and four of exile in Siberia "for participation in Ukrainian nationalistic activities." Viktor was born in Pochyot, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russian SFSR.
In the mid-1960s, the Medvedchuks returned to the Ukrainian SSR, settling in Kornyn, Zhytomyr Oblast. In 1971, Medvedchuk graduated from high school in Borova, Fastiv Raion (Kyiv Oblast). After graduation, he unsuccessfully tried to enroll to the Higher School of Militsiya, but was rejected due to his family history. In November 1971, Medvedchuk found a job as sorter at the Kiev Railroad Post office factory producing periodicals, and by the start of 1972 he was an overstaffed militsiya worker at the Motovylivka station (located in Borova). Already in summer of 1972 Medvedchuk successfully passed an entrance exam to the Law School of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, however was not admitted. On 12 September 1972 he was enrolled in the University by the Rector's order #445, based on the authorization from the Ministry of the Interior of he Ukrainian SSR. The reason for it, in the opinion of Dmytro Chobot, was "a secret cooperation with militia" which was confirmed by the Supreme Court of Ukraine.
In April 1974, Medvedchuk and two of his comrades were convicted by the court of Lenin Raion (today the court of Pechersk Raion) in Kyiv under article 102 of the Criminal Code of the Ukrainian SSR (beating up a minor). In June of the same year the court collegiate in criminal cases of the Kyiv city court overturned the verdict of the court of Lenin Raion and sent the case back for further investigation. In November 1974, the case was closed due to lack of evidence. Medvedchuk was acquitted and reinstated at the university.
He graduated from the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv in 1978 as a lawyer and next year he became a member of the Kyiv City Collegiate of Attorneys. Medvedchuk "defended" poet Vasyl Stus during his trial in 1980. In the closing speech from the defence, Medvedchuk stated all of Stus' crimes deserved punishment; he also told the court to make sure that the defendant fulfilled his daily norm at the factory where he worked at the time, despite alleged serious stomach problems.
Medvedchuk founded a successful legal company, BIM, in the early 1990s.
Medvedchuk has been a member of the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (united), a party of centrist orientation, since 1994. He served as chairman from 1998 till two days after the 26 March 2006 parliamentary election.
Medvedchuk first entered the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Parliament) in 1997 by winning a by-election in the 171th District (in the Zakarpattia Oblast). Elected back into parliament in 1998 he was elected Second Deputy Chairman in July 1998. In 2002 he was reelected to parliament, Medvedchuk was the First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada from February 2000 till December 2001 when he was dismissed for abuse of power, biassed treatment of the parliament's agenda and procedural violations. From June 2002 till January 2005 Medvedchuk served as head of President Leonid Kuchma's presidential administration. As such, he was a leading target for criticism by the opposition, including Viktor Yushchenko who often spoke out bitterly against Medvedchuk. Medvedchuk was considered the main behind-the-scenes man of then-Prime Minister and pro-Kuchma presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych in the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election, which was nicknamed the "battle of three Viktors" after them and their main opponent Yushchenko.
In one instance, Medvedchuk paid a "huge amount of money" to the Ukrainian National Assembly leader Eduard Kovalenko to hold a march supporting Yushchenko against his wishes. The march included Nazi-like flags and symbols, and Kovalenko used a Nazi salute in his support speech. The move was meant to discredit the democratic candidate (Yushchenko) in the eyes of Western observers.
Since November 2008 Medvedchuk has been a member of the Supreme Council of Justice. Focus evaluated Medvedchuk's assets in 2008 to be worth $460 million and labeled him the 57th richest man of Ukraine.
On 21 March 2012, he stated he will be "returning to public politics not for the sake of the elections, as I strongly believe that all things that take place are not the result of elections, but the result of our mistakes during elections". According to a September/October 2013 poll by Razumkov Centre a party led by Medvedchuk would score 0.9% of the votes during elections. A December 2013 poll by the Sociological group "RATING" gave it 0.7% and predicted that Medvedchuk's result in the first round ballot of the next (Ukrainian) presidential election would be 0.9%. During 2013 Ukrainian experts have argued that Medvedchuk attempts to influence public opinion have failed.
Currently Medvedchuk is chairman of the pro-Russian political organization Ukrainian Choice. In 2013 he began publicly attacking the European Union, at one point comparing it to the Nazi Third Reich. On 30 November he condemned a series of protests, known as Euromaidan that supported closer ties between Ukraine and the EU.
Due to the Crimean crisis he was put on the Canadian and the U.S. sanction lists, 17 March 2014.
Viktor Medvedchuk is an open and bitter critic of the Euromaidan protest campaign (initially aimed at reverting the second Azarov government decision to suspend preparations for signing an Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the European Union). After one of his December 2013 meetings with Russia's President Vladimir Putin, Medvedchuk publicly promised to "deal with" pro-European protesters in Ukraine.
Activists of Euromaidan allege that Medvedchuk was among the masterminds of the 25 December 2013 attempted murder of Ukrainian journalist Tetiana Chornovol. They call him a "perpetrator" and link his name to the all bloody events of the government strike against the Euromaidan. Considering all Medvedchuk's recent activity directed to push Ukraine into the economic union with Russia, the Euromaidan activists came to one of the Medvedchuks' villas to protest. The same day Victor Medvedchuk claimed that he was "ready for the war" with the Ukrainian opposition parties. The next day Ukrayinska Pravda newspaper published investigative article on Medvedchuk's allegedly illegal takeover a government property back in 2004, while Head of Administration for Ukrainian President. The source of the information is named as Mykhailo Chechetov (the state property chief at the time) who has been "forced" (by his own words) to help Medvedchuk in that deal.
On 8 January 2014 Medvedchuk won a slander lawsuit against Oksana Zabuzhko; in an interview with Radio Liberty the writer had accused Medvedchuk of involvement in the provocations against Euromaidan on 30 November – 1 December (Medvedchuk had demanded a token amount of 0.25 hryvnia as a compensation).
Medvedchuk stated on 9 January 2014 that "The absence of the translation of the text of the [EU] Association Agreement, the provision of excessive asymmetric privileges to European manufacturers - all this indicates that the EU was preparing to turn the Ukrainian economy into its raw material appendage". He also believed that because "the current team" leading Ukraine response to "interference in Ukraine's internal affairs by EU and U.S. diplomats inspire serious doubt that the current team is able to protect Ukraine's economic interests". "Therefore, before the adoption by the Ukrainian people of the direct decision on the choice of the vector of external integration any actions by the authorities on lobbying this policy are only political speculation, which has nothing to do with the will of the people and the protection of the economic interests of our country".
Medvedchuk was present at negotiations with the armed separatist in the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces on 21 June 2014 to discuss President Petro Poroshenko peace plan although it was unclear who he represented there.
On 24 June 2014, the Donetsk People's Republic and Lugansk People's Republic informed the OSCE that Medvedchuk was appointed their representative in the negotiations with the Ukrainian Government. But on 8 July 2014 self-proclaimed Prime Minister of the Donetsk People's Republic Alexander Borodai stated that Medvedchuk "has no right to represent either the Donetsk People's Republic or the Lugansk People's Republic" and that he was a "mediator in the negotiations". About the negotiations he wrote on his Facebook page on 28 June 2014 "Hope that a compromise will be found has appeared and we'll manage to find a way of the present situation, retaining the territorial integrity of Ukraine and restoring peace". In further negotiations with the separatists, Medvedchuk was not involved. Until he became Ukraine's special representative for humanitarian affairs in the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine on 5 June 2015.
1) Marina Lebedeva
2) Natalya Gavrilyuk (1952)
3) Oksana Marchenko
|Head of the Presidential Administration
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