Pro-Russian Politician Escapes House Arrest in Ukraine, Leaves Lavish Property
When Slidstvo reporters recently inspected the property of Viktor Medvedchuk, a pro-Russian politician who escaped house arrest four days after the Russian invasion, they found a giant cuboid covered with green camouflage net sitting next to his unfinished mansion.
Under the net: a replica of a railway platform with a sign saying “Far” and a copy of a Pullman dining car parked on the rails - allegedly a birthday gift from his wife.
“I think he has an inferiority complex,” said Petro, an activist who was showing reporters the property of the man who has been a towering figure in Ukrainian politics and who is said to be a personal friend of President Vladimir Putin.
Although he is securing the site every day, Petro is still amazed by the wastefulness of Medvedchuk and his wife, TV presenter Oksana Marchenko.
“This could be turned into an amusement park,” he said. Roaming through the mansion and pointing at the grand double staircase still under construction and the ceiling ornaments, Petro offered his own explanation of what this war was about: “for them to live like this and us to work for them.”
He then led the reporters under the camouflage net to the railway platform equipped with benches, lanterns and clocks. To enter the blue dining car, a replica of the luxurious Pullman which high-end clients once traveled in, visitors have to wear plastic shoe covers in order not to damage the expensive carpets.
The car was made by hundreds of Ukrainian craftsmen from sketches the designers "borrowed" from the luxury brand, Slidstvo found.
Inside, the gilded details, the stained glass ceiling, the red velvet curtains and the white tablecloths make the main hall look more like a museum. The car can accommodate about 40 people and has a kitchen, a VIP compartment and a toilet. With gilded toilet paper holder, of course.
From the bar next to the entrance, Petro pulled out a few glasses decorated with the gilded coat of arms of the Russian Federation.
Such glasses are produced by the Russian "Kubachinsky plant," which advertizes them on its website.
“A silver cup holder with a gilded coat of arms of the Russian Federation will serve as a non-trivial present for a VIP,” the site says. "Such a gift will certainly be appreciated by a person holding a high position in the service of the state.”
Medvedchuk and a longtime business partner obtained a lucrative stake in a Russian oil refinery for just over $40,000 and this stake generated tens of millions of dollars in dividends.
He has since helped set up and finance Ukraine’s biggest pro-Russia party, the Opposition Platform For Life (OPFL).
He never hid his appreciation and enthusiasm for the Russian regime and Putin.
“I am a constant and consistent opponent of NATO,” he admitted on Twitter last month. “I really want, have done and will do everything to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO, because I think that the best status for our country is the status of a non-bloc state,” he wrote.
A day before the Russian invasion, Medvedchuk tweeted that “everything they (the Zelensky administration) do, they do to the detriment of Ukraine and to the detriment of the Ukrainian people.”
Medvedchuk and his wife have been sanctioned by their own country for channeling profits from their Russia-based oil facility towards the breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, which qualifies as the financing of terrorism under Ukrainian laws, according to the Atlantic Council.
The TV mogul’s television channels were taken off the air and he was put under house arrest in May last year, when Ukrainian prosecutors accused him of treason and attempted looting of Crimean resources. Medvedchuk was later charged and may face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
Ukrainian authorities claim that Medvedchuk had fled house arrest, but his lawyer Larisa Cherednichenko said he had been “evacuated to a safe place in Kyiv.” In the meantime, a Ukrainian court has put him on the wanted list as his whereabouts are still unknown.