Another leaked tape reveals Medvedchuk blocked prisoner swap in July 2015 / REUTERS
Investigative journalists have shared another portion of leaked tapes, involving Member of Parliament Viktor Medvedchuk, who has close personal ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin and who is facing high treason charges in Ukraine; according to the tapes, Medvedchuk in July 2015 prevented a prisoner swap, which was advantageous to Ukraine.
That's according to a new investigation by BIHUS Info released on Monday, June 7.
The journalists say Medvedchuk communicated with Olga Kobtseva, who was responsible for the swap in the "Luhansk People's Republic" ("LPR"), and Daria Morozova, who was responsible for the exchange of detainees in the "Donetsk People's Republic" ("DPR"), as well as "DPR Defense Minister" Vladimir Kononov.
On one of the recordings that is dated July 27, 2015, Kobtseva is heard saying that the Ukrainian side was going to carry out a one-for-seven prisoner swap. Medvedchuk told her to interfere with this. As a result, the swap failed.
Read also Recordings of alleged calls by Medvedchuk being examined by SBU Also, the discussion mentioned the exchange of Donetsk airport defender, "cyborg" Andriy Hrechanov (nom de guerre "Rakhman") for Russian citizen and Russian Army Major Vladimir Starkov. Earlier, former adviser to Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksiy Mochanov, Hrechanov's friend, said he was going to arrange the swap of Starkov for Hrechanov in August 2015 but the operation repeatedly failed.
The investigative journalists say Medvedchuk was discussing the said swap with the "DPR Defense Minister" and was outraged that it would be handled by "some Mochanov." He said the swap should be carried out by the "top officials," which would create a precedent, as the Ukrainian president would then pardon Starkov.
On the day of the swap arranged by Mochanov, Medvedchuk called Kononov and canceled it. The journalists say the decision surprised even the terrorists.
Hrechanov was captured by "DPR" fighters in July 2015 and was eventually freed on November 30, 2015. His release was announced by the then Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on December 1, 2015. The then president just returned from the Normandy summit and said that he had asked the allies to "put pressure on Putin" to get "Rakhman" released.
Prior to the swap talks, Medvedchuk in October 2014 participated in negotiations on the supply of Russian natural gas. He was in constant contact with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller.
At the talks in Brussels, the Ukrainian side wanted to change the price and have it sealed by the contract, but the Russian side was against. On the recordings, Medvedchuk says he discussed this issue with Poroshenko. Later, Ukraine made concessions.
Medvedchuk also participated in negotiations on electricity purchases. According to the journalists, he wanted to include Russian businessman Konstantin Grigorishin's bogus company in the contract. He flew to Moscow for negotiations with Deputy Head of Russia's presidential administration Dmitry Kozak. Later, the contract was concluded without intermediaries.
Medvedchuk's leaked tapes
- Earlier, journalists released several parts of Medvedchuk's tapes. The first portion concerned Medvedchuk's negotiations with the leadership of the Russian Federation and the terrorists' leaders.
- The second one described how Medvedchuk's Samara – Western Direction fuel pipeline became his asset.
- The third recording revealed that in the autumn of 2014, Medvedchuk was negotiating coal purchases from the Russia-occupied territories, in agreement with the then President Petro Poroshenko and under the cover of the SBU Security Service of Ukraine.
Translation: Kanaryan Lyudmila