SBU says Medvedchuk plays no role in agency's talks with Russia on prisoner release
The SBU Security Service of Ukraine states it does not interact with Viktor Medvedchuk, who is Vladimir Putin's closest political ally in Ukraine, on the issue of the release of Ukrainian hostages and political prisoners from Russia.
"Today, the Security Service of Ukraine doesn't interact with Medvedchuk on the issue of the release of hostages and political prisoners," the SBU told UNIAN, responding to an inquiry related to incumbent President Petro Poroshenko's earlier instructions to the SBU to assess feasibility of Medvedchuk's further participation in talks on the release of Ukrainian hostages from Russia.
At the same time, the Security Service stressed that it was former SBU Chief Valentyn Nalyvaichenko who attracted Mr Medvedchuk to such talks back in 2014.
As UNIAN reported earlier, on December 23, 2014, the SBU announced that chairman of the pro-Russian political organization Ukrainian Choice Viktor Medvedchuk (Russian President Vladimir Putin is a godfather for Medvedchuk's daughter) would participate in the negotiations on the release of Ukrainian hostages from captivity.
On October 10, 2015, head of the SBU Security Service of Ukraine Vasyl Hrytsak said at a press conference that "Medvedchuk plays the role of a communicator [in the release of prisoners) with that [Russia's] side."
The latest hostage swap was held in Donbas December 27, 2017. Ukraine handed over 233 convicts detained on war-related charges who had been serving their sentences in Ukrainian prisons in exchange for 73 Ukrainian hostages held by Russian-led forces. Among the released Ukrainian hostages were 32 military and 41 civilians.
On April 10, 2019, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko instructed the SBU security service to report on the feasibility of further participation of Viktor Medvedchuk in the negotiations on the release of Ukrainian detainees from the occupied territories and political prisoners from Russia.
"I appeal to the Security Service of Ukraine to consider the feasibility of further using Mr. Medvedchuk in the format of a humanitarian group on hostage release if its functioning is ineffective, and report to me tomorrow," the head of state said.