KYIV -- A Ukrainian court has extended by two months the house arrest of Viktor Medvedchuk, a Kremlin-leaning lawmaker and tycoon who is accused of supporting fighters in two eastern provinces.
Medvedchuk, who heads Opposition Platform-For Life, the second-largest party in the parliament, will remain under house arrest until October 31, the court said.
The 67-year-old Medvedchuk, who has a close personal relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, is accused of funneling profits from his businesses into the two separatist-controlled regions in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine has been battling the Russia-backed separatists since 2014 in a war that has killed more than 13,200.
Medvedchuk denies the charges and calls them politically motivated.
The lawmaker was first placed under house arrest in May after Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) searched his home and office in Kyiv.
In a sign of things to come, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in February signed off on sanctions against Medvedchuk and three television stations believed to be owned by the tycoon in a move that caught the country by surprise.
Zelenskiy later described it as the start of his campaign to reduce the influence of a handful of tycoons who control the country from behind the scenes.
Civil society activists accuse Medvedchuk of undermining crucial reforms that would help Ukraine build a rules-based society and move closer to its goal of joining the European Union and NATO.
They also accuse his stations of spreading Russian disinformation.
The United States sanctioned Medvedchuk in 2014 for undermining democracy in Ukraine.