15:54 19.06.2019

Agreement to swap captives, including Sentsov, broken after Zakharchenko's murder - Medvedchuk

3 min read
Agreement to swap captives, including Sentsov, broken after Zakharchenko's murder - Medvedchuk

An agreement to swap detainees and prisoners, among them Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov, was practically achieved but fell through after the killing of self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) head Alexander Zakharchenko, Ukrainian opposition politician Viktor Medvedchuk said.

"We had practically agreed to swap [captives], including Sentsov, but the deal was broken off after the known events in Donetsk," Medvedchuk told the BBC Russian service in an interview posted on Wednesday.

Medvedchuk gave an affirmative answer to the follow-up question of whether he was implying the killing of Zakharchenko. "Yes, we'd practically made the deal," he said.

Members of the former Ukrainian government, who are currently in Russia and cannot go back to Ukraine (such as former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his associate, businessman Serhiy Kurchenko), must be held liable if "their actions constitute formal elements of a crime," Medvedchuk said. "Anything is possible if they reach an agreement with the new authorities. But I still think they should be held responsible," he said.

Medvedchuk answered negatively to the question of whether he stayed in contact with those persons.

"I do not communicate with traitors. That's my life's principle. I'm long past the forgiving age. I forgive these people nothing because they put my country in this position; it wasn't those who came afterwards, it was them. That's the main thing. And I'll always remember that. Yanukovych was never pro-Russian. That's what people believed. He was pro-Yanukovych. They were lying about the 'European choice' of the country for two years. They were cynically lying through their teeth. All those you've mentioned. [...] Yanukovych, [former Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola] Azarov; it was them who put the country in this position, I know that for sure," Medvedchuk said.

According to Medvedchuk, he travels to Russia via Belarus because of the lack of direct flights. "I board a plane in Kyiv and take a connecting flight to either Moscow or St. Petersburg in Gomel or Minsk. [...] Look how absurd this is: I can take a train in the evening and arrive directly in Moscow in the morning. But I have to take a connecting flight in Gomel because direct flights aren't allowed," he said.

Medvedchuk said he has always been a law-abiding citizen: "regular flights were banned but charter flights were allowed with the consent of both sides." "Russia gave me permission and, naturally, Ukraine acted likewise. There were no special permits, despite the speculations made over a few years," he said.

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