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Ukraine imposes sanctions on pro-Russia lawmaker

Published on February 19, 2021

Ukraine on Friday imposed sanctions against powerful pro-Russian lawmaker Viktor Medvedchuk, citing an investigation into the “financing of terrorism”.

Ukraine has been fighting separatists backed by Russia in the eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions since 2014, following Moscow’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula.

Kiev accuses Moscow of sending troops and arms to fuel the conflict, referring to the separatists and those who support them as terrorists.

Medvedchuk, a 66-year-old close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been repeatedly accused in Ukraine of doing business in Russia.

On Friday, Ukraine’s national security and defence council imposed sanctions on Medvedchuk, his wife Oksana Marchenko, five Russian citizens and 19 companies.

“Sanctions will be imposed on Medvedchuk’s entire estate,” Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of the council, told reporters.

He said Medvedchuk and Marchenko are listed in a criminal probe into the “financing of terrorism”, but did not provide further details as to their status in the case.

Danilov did not provide further details about the sanctions, which need President Volodymyr Zelensky’s approval to go into effect.

In a statement Medvechuk’s party — “Opposition Platform – For Life — described the sanctions as an “act of political repression”.

“Today Ukraine is one step closer to dictatorship,” it said, adding that it had launched procedures to impeach President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The party has 44 seats in Ukraine’s parliament while the government holds 245 — more than half of the body’s 450 total seats.

Relations between Kiev and Moscow are at an all-time low, worsening earlier this month when Ukraine banned three pro-Russian television channels in a move it said was aimed at staving off Kremlin propaganda.

The decision was welcomed by Western countries, in particular the United States, which slapped sanctions on Medvechuk after Moscow annexed Crimea.

In recent weeks, the Putin ally also spearheaded calls to approve Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, but Ukraine’s pro-Western leadership has rejected the jab as a geopolitical tool.