FILE PHOTO: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (R) attends a meeting with leader of Ukraine’s Opposition Platform – For Life party Viktor Medvedchuk in Saint Petersburg, Russia July 18, 2019.
Mikhail Klimentyev | Sputnik | Reuters
WASHINGTON — Authorities in Ukraine announced Thursday that they have seized more than 150 assets belonging to Viktor Medvedchuk, the former media mogul and politician who is charged with treason for allegedly conspiring with the Kremlin to overthrow Ukraine’s elected government.
They included 26 cars, 32 apartments, 23 houses, 30 plots of land, 17 parking spots and a yacht, according to an announcement from Ukraine’s security service.
Authorities said they also identified and seized shares of capital in 25 companies owned by either Medvedchuk or his wife, Oksana Marchenko.
Medvedchuk was detained this week by Ukrainian law enforcement after more than month as a fugitive, after he escaped from house arrest in the chaos following Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.
Reputed to be Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest Ukrainian friend, news of Medvedchuk’s arrest on Tuesday was greeted with jubilation in Ukraine, which is holding out against a brutal Russian assault.
On Thursday, Ukraine’s top law enforcement officer for the first time offered details of the mission to recapture Medvedchuk.
He said Russian agents planned to smuggle Medvedchuk out of Ukrainian territory by boat into the Russian-occupied region of the country, and from there on to Moscow.
When Medvedchuk was captured, the 67-year-old was wearing a Ukrainian army uniform and accompanied by what appeared to be real Ukrainian law enforcement officers.
The photo of Medvedchuk in custody that was released by Ukrainian authorities this week offers no hint of his enormous wealth, estimated by Forbes Ukraine to be just over $620 million in 2021.
But the asset seizures tell a different story, painting a clear picture of the lavish lifestyle of one of Ukraine’s richest oligarchs.
Medvedchuk owned several palatial homes across Ukraine. His house outside of Kyiv features a real Pullman train car with a gold interior, parked at a fake station platform.
Earlier this year, a judge in Ukraine ordered that three apartments, two villas and a yacht all belonging to Marchenko be seized.
The 300 foot-long Royal Romance is valued at approximately $200 million, and it was docked in Croatia when it was repossessed in mid-March.
Ukrainian authorities did not provide any details on Thursday about the second yacht they had seized.