KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — A top Ukrainian opposition politician with close links to Russian President Vladimir Putin was placed under house arrest Thursday, days after being charged with treason.
Viktor Medvedchuk, who heads the Opposition Platform for Life party, the largest opposition force in parliament, denies the charges brought against him last week and says they’re politically motivated. Medvedchuk, who has close personal ties with Putin, the godfather of Medvedchuk’s daughter, could face 15 years in prison if tried and convicted.
Prosecutors had asked a court in Kyiv to put Medvedchuk in jail, but a judge ordered house arrest instead.
Medvedchuk, 66 is accused of transferring oil and gas production licenses from one of the fields in Crimea to Russian authorities. Russia annexed the Black Sea peninsula in 2014, weeks after Ukraine’s former Moscow-friendly president was ousted by protesters.
Medvedchuk is also charged with allegedly disclosing secret data on the deployment of Ukrainian military units last year.
The new accusations are part of a broader campaign against Medvedchuk launched by Ukrainian authorities in February, when his financial assets were frozen for three years. In February, authorities also shut down three pro-Russian TV channels, 112, Zik and NewsOne, which Medvedchuk controlled.