Viktor Medvedchuk

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Viktor Medvedchuk
Ві́ктор Медведчу́к
Viktor Medvedchuk (2019-09-05) 2.jpg
People's Deputy of Ukraine
Assumed office
29 August 2019
Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine
In office
12 June 2002 – 21 January 2005
PresidentLeonid Kuchma
Preceded byVolodymyr Lytvyn
Succeeded byOleksandr Zinchenko
Personal details
Viktor Volodymyrovych Medvedchuk

(1954-08-07) 7 August 1954 (age 66)
Pochet, Abansky District, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Political partyOpposition Platform — For Life
Other political
Ukrainian Choice
Marina Lebedeva
Natalya Gavrilyuk
Oksana Marchenko
(m. 2003)
ChildrenIrina (b. 1982)
Daryna (b. 2004)
Alma materKyiv University (1978)
OccupationPolitician, lawyer

Viktor Volodymyrovych Medvedchuk (Ukrainian: Ві́ктор Володи́мирович Медведчу́к; born 7 August 1954) is a Ukrainian politician, lawyer, and business oligarch.[1][2][3][4] People's Deputy of Ukraine from 29 August 2019.

Medvedchuk served between 2002 and 2005 as chief of staff to former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma.[3][4]

Currently, Medvedchuk is chairman of the pro-Russia political organization Ukrainian Choice and an opponent of Ukraine joining the European Union.[5]

In November 2018, Medvedchuk was elected chairman of the political council of the political party For Life, which later merged into the Opposition Platform — For Life party.[6] In the 2019 Ukrainian parliamentary election, the party won 37 seats on the nationwide party list and 6 constituency seats.[7] As he placed third on the 2019 election list of Opposition Platform — For Life, Medvedchuk was elected to parliament.[8][7]

In Ukraine, Medvedchuk is considered an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he has referred to as "a personal friend".[9] Putin is the godfather of Medvedchuk's daughter Daryna (born in 2004).[10]

On 19 February 2021, the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine included Medvedchuk and his wife, Oksana Marchenko, on the Ukrainian sanctions list, due to the financing of terrorism.[11]

Early life and education[edit]

Medvedchuk's father, Volodymyr Medvedchuk, avoided being drafted into the Red Army during World War II due to his suffering from Pott disease. During Nazi Germany's occupation of Ukraine, he worked for the German administration in a labor camp from April 1942 to November 1943. The section provided enforced deportation of the local able-bodied Ukrainian youth to work in Nazi Germany.[12] After the retreat of German forces, Volodymyr Medvedchuk was arrested by SMERSH on 7 August 1954 and sentenced to eight years of imprisonment and four of exile in Siberia "for participation in Ukrainian nationalistic activities."[12] Viktor was born in Pochet, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russian SFSR. He has claimed that his father was member of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists.[12] According to his Soviet court indictment, Volodymyr Medvedchuk had "joined the counter-revolutionary organization of Ukrainian nationalists" in April 1942.[13] In July 1995, Ukraine's military prosecutor's office reviewed the case of Volodymyr Medvedchuk and decided to rehabilitate him "In accordance with Article 1 of the Law of Ukraine of 17 April 1991 On the Rehabilitation of Victims of Political Repression in Ukraine."[13]

In the mid-1960s, the Medvedchuks returned to the Ukrainian SSR, settling in Kornyn, Zhytomyr Oblast. In 1971, Medvedchuk graduated from high school in Borova, Fastiv Raion (Kyiv Oblast). In November 1971, Medvedchuk found a job as sorter at the Kiev Railroad Post office factory producing periodicals, and by the start of 1972 he was an overstaffed militsiya (the police of the Soviet Union) worker at the Motovylivka station (located in Borova). Already, in the summer of 1972, Medvedchuk successfully passed an entrance exam to the Law School of KSU Shevchenko (now the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv), however was not admitted. On 12 September 1972, he was enrolled in the University by the Rector's order #445, based on the authorization from the Ministry of the Interior of the Ukrainian SSR.[14] The reason for it, in the opinion of Dmytro Chobot, was "a secret cooperation with militia" which was confirmed by the Supreme Court of Ukraine.[15] In 1978, he graduated from the law faculty of KSU Shevchenko. While training at the University Medvedchuk was a combatant, helping the police catch offenders, and while on patrol with his squad he beat a student. In April 1974, Medvedchuk and two of his fellow policemen were convicted by the court of Lenin Raion (today the court of Pechersk Raion) in Kyiv under article 102 of the Criminal Code of the Ukrainian SSR (beating up a minor). In June of the same year, the court collegiate in criminal cases of the Kyiv city court overturned the verdict of the court of Lenin Raion and sent the case back for further investigation. In November 1974, the case was closed due to lack of evidence. Medvedchuk was acquitted and reinstated at the university.[16] After graduation, he tried to enroll at the Higher School of Militsiya, but was rejected due to his family history. He graduated from the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv in 1978 as a lawyer.[1][17]

Legal career and participation in political trials against Soviet dissidents[edit]

In 1979, Medvedchuk became a member of the Shevchenkivska Legal Consultation of the Kyiv City Collegiate of Attorneys.[1][17]

In 1979, Medvedchuk was a lawyer for the repressed poet Yuriy Lytvyn. In his last word on the court, Lytvyn described the work of Medvedchuk as a lawyer on 17 December 1979: "The passivity of my lawyer Medvedchuk in defense is not due to his professional profanity, but to the instructions he received from above and his subordination: he does not dare to reveal the mechanism implemented provocations against me."[18] Lytvyn was convicted and died in prison.[17] According to official documents from the court in Vasylkiv, Medvedchuk had referred to the incompleteness of the investigation in the case and had asked to cancel the court's verdict and send the case for a new trial.[17]

In 1980, Medvedchuk was appointed lawyer in the trial of Vasyl Stus.[19][20] According to the testimony of people close to Stus (his wife and friend Yevgeny Sverstyuk), Stus refused to be defended by Medvedchuk, because "he immediately felt that Medvedchuk was an aggressive Komsomol type person, he didn't protect him, he didn't want to understand him, and, in fact, he was not interested in his business." Nevertheless, Medvedchuk remained Stus lawyer despite the protests of his client.[21] According to the "Chronicle of Current Events", Medvedchuk's plea at the Stus trial was as follows: "The lawyer said in his speech that all of Stus's crimes deserve to be punished, but he asks to pay attention to the fact that Stus, working in 1979–1980 at the enterprises of Kiev, fulfilled the norm; in addition, he underwent a severe stomach operation."[22][19] According to Ukrainian lawyers Roman Titikalo and Ilya Kotin, Medvedchuk seems to have recognized the guilt of his client Stus during the court case. In doing so, (the lawyer) Medvedchuk violated his professional duty since he seemed to refused to defend Stus, which grossly violated the Stus's right to a defense in court.[23] Stus died after he declared hunger strike on 4 September 1985 in a Soviet forced labor camp for political prisoners Perm-36.[24] In a 2018 interview with The Independent, Medvedchuk claimed he could not have operated differently: "Stus denounced the Soviet government, and didn't consider it to be legitimate. Everyone decides their own fate. Stus admitted he agitated against the Soviet government. He was found guilty by the laws of the time. When the laws changed, the case was dropped. Unfortunately, he died."[4]

In 1985, a lawyer at the trial of poet Mikola Kuntsevich. According to Kuntsevich's memoirs, Medvedchuk "poured more dirt on him than the prosecutor." After Medvedchuk asked the court to dismiss one of Kuntsevich's motions, he challenged him and repeated the challenge several times, but each time the court dismissed it. In his last word, Medvedchuk said: "I completely agree with a comrade prosecutor in determining the sentence. But, for reasons incomprehensible to me, comrade prosecutor forgot that the defendant had not yet left one year and nine months from the previous term. I consider it necessary to add this period to the new punishment." This request was granted by the court.[25]

Medvedchuk founded a successful legal company, BIM, in the early 1990s.[26] From 1990 to 1997, he was the president of the Bar Association of Ukraine.[27]

Political career[edit]

In 1994, Medvedchuk became member of the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (united). He served as chairman from 1998 until two days after the 26 March 2006 parliamentary election.[1][28][29]

Medvedchuk first entered the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Parliament) in 1997 by winning a by-election in the 171th District (in the Zakarpattia Oblast).[1][29][30] Elected back into parliament in 1998[26] he was elected Second Deputy Chairman in July 1998.[31] In 2002, he was reelected to parliament,[26] Medvedchuk was the First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada from February 2000 until December 2001 when he was dismissed for abuse of power, biassed treatment of the parliament's agenda and procedural violations.[32]

From June 2002[26] until January 2005,[33][34] Medvedchuk served as head of President Leonid Kuchma's presidential administration.[28][35] As such, he was a leading target for criticism by the opposition, including Viktor Yushchenko who often spoke out bitterly against Medvedchuk. Medvedchuk was considered the main behind-the-scenes man of then-Prime Minister and pro-Kuchma presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych in the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election,[1] which was nicknamed the "battle of three Viktors" after them and their main opponent Yushchenko. In one instance, Medvedchuk paid a "huge amount of money" to the Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian People's Self-Defence leader Eduard Kovalenko to hold a march supporting Yushchenko against his wishes. The march included Nazi-like flags and symbols, and Kovalenko used a Nazi salute in his support speech. The move was meant to discredit the democratic candidate (Yushchenko) in the eyes of Western observers.[36]

In the 2006 Ukrainian parliamentary election, Medvedchuk was placed third on the election list of the Opposition Bloc "Ne Tak".[27] But this alliance failed to win parliamentary representation with only gaining 1,01% of the total votes.[37] Medvedchuk did not take part again in elections until 2019.[27]

In November 2008, Medvedchuk became a member of the Supreme Council of Justice.[28][38] Focus evaluated Medvedchuk's assets in 2008 to be worth $460 million and labeled him the 57th richest man of Ukraine.[1]

On 21 March 2012, he stated he will be "returning to public politics not for the sake of the elections, as I strongly believe that all things that take place are not the result of elections, but the result of our mistakes during elections".[28][39] According to a September/October 2013 poll by Razumkov Centre, a party led by Medvedchuk would score 0.9% of the votes during elections.[40] A December 2013 poll by the Sociological group "RATING" gave it 0.7% and predicted that Medvedchuk's result in the first round ballot of the next (Ukrainian) presidential election would be 0.9%.[41] During 2013, Ukrainian experts have argued that Medvedchuk attempts to influence public opinion have failed.[5]

Currently, Medvedchuk is chairman of the pro-Russian political organization Ukrainian Choice.[5] In 2013, he began publicly attacking the European Union, at one point comparing it to the Nazi Third Reich.[42] On 30 November, he condemned a series of protests, known as Euromaidan that supported closer ties between Ukraine and the EU.[43]

Due to the Crimean crisis, he was put on the Canadian and the U.S. sanction lists, 17 March 2014.[3][4]

In November 2018, Medvedchuk was elected chairman of the political council of (the political party) For life.[6] In December 2018, this party merged into the Opposition Platform — For Life party.[8] In the 2019 Ukrainian parliamentary election, the party won 37 seats on the nationwide party list and 6 constituency seats.[7] In this election, Medvedchuk was placed third on the election list of Opposition Platform — For Life and thus elected to parliament.[8][7]

On 19 February 2021, the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine included Medvedchuk and his wife, Oksana Marchenko, on the Ukrainian sanctions list, due to the financing of terrorism.[11] It was claimed he was channeling money from his Russia-based refinery to the separatists of the Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic in eastern Ukraine.[44] Medvedchuk has denied the accusations.[44] The sanctions froze the assets of Medvedchuk and his wife for three years and prevented them from doing business in Ukraine (most of Medvedchuk’s assets were registered under his wife’s name).[45] Ukrainian authorities also announced that an oil pipeline that was reportedly controlled by Medvedchuk wich transports Russian oil products to Europe would be nationalised.[45]

Medvedchuk and his business partner Taras Kozak have money in Belarusian banks controlled by business associates of President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, Aliaksei Aleksin and Mikalai Varabei.[46] They also have common business interests.[46]

Relationship with Vladimir Putin[edit]

In Ukraine, Medvedchuk is considered an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.[9] He has in the past frequently referred to Putin as "a personal friend".[9] The two first met in 2003, during Medvedchuk's tenure as Head of Ukraine's Presidential Administration.[4] In 2004, Putin became Medvedchuk's youngest daughter Darya's godfather.[47] According to Medvedchuk, this had been the wish of his wife, TV presenter Oksana Marchenko, and that she had asked him to persuade Putin to accept.[47]

Since the March 2014 annexation of Crimea by Russia, Crimea is under dispute by Russia and Ukraine.[48] In an August 2016 interview with Radio Svoboda, Medvedchuk stated the from legal point of view, Crimea was part of Ukraine, "but de facto, unfortunately, it belongs to Russia."[49] In the same interview, Medvedchuk accused the Ukrainian authorities of "pushing the peninsula away, pushing its inhabitants away" which allegedly prompted them to agree to the annexation.[49] He also stated that Ukraine "If the Ukrainian government wanted to return Crimea" should restore the electricity and water supply to Crimea through the North Crimean Canal and should stop its economic blockade (of Crimea).[49] Allegedly, if this would happen "There would be no cessation of rail, freight and passenger traffic."[49] In the August 2016 Radio Svoboda interview, Medvedchuk also stated that his relationship with Putin was helping him to "help the interests of (Ukraine)."[49]

In a 2018 interview with The Independent, Medvedchuk claimed that he used his relationship with Putin to help prisoners exchanges in the War in Donbass.[4] He also stated that, unlike Putin, he sees Ukraine and Russia as two separate "Slavic nations, with intertwined histories, religion. I tell him this all the time. I don't think it's one nation. You simply can't say this."[4] In the 2018 interview, he claimed he "often" discussed Ukraine with Putin.[4]

In his 2015[50] book All the Kremlin's Men, Russian journalist Mikhail Zygar claimed that Putin believed that no question involving Ukraine could be solved without Medvedchuk.[4]

Accusations of involvement in Euromaidan suppression[edit]

Medvedchuk is an open and bitter critic of the Euromaidan protest campaign (initially aimed at reverting the second Azarov government decision to suspend preparations for signing an Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the European Union[51]). After one of his December 2013 meetings with Russia's President Vladimir Putin, Medvedchuk publicly promised to "deal with" pro-European protesters in Ukraine.[citation needed]

Activists of Euromaidan allege that Medvedchuk was among the masterminds of 25 December 2013 attempted murder of Ukrainian journalist Tetiana Chornovol.[52] They call him a "perpetrator" and link his name to the all bloody events of the government strike against the Euromaidan.[53] Considering all Medvedchuk's recent activity directed to push Ukraine into the economic union with Russia, the Euromaidan activists came to one of the Medvedchuks' villas to protest.[53] The same day, Medvedchuk claimed that he was "ready for the war" with the Ukrainian opposition parties.[54] The next day, the Ukrayinska Pravda newspaper published an investigative article on Medvedchuk's allegedly illegal takeover a government property back in 2004, while Head of Administration for Ukrainian President. The source of the information is named as Mykhailo Chechetov (the state property chief at the time) who has been "forced" (by his own words) to help Medvedchuk in that deal.[55]

On 8 January 2014, Medvedchuk won a slander lawsuit against Oksana Zabuzhko; in an interview with Radio Liberty the writer had accused Medvedchuk of involvement in the provocations against Euromaidan on 30 November – 1 December (Medvedchuk had demanded a token amount of 0.25 hryvnia as a compensation).[56]

Medvedchuk stated on 9 January 2014 that "The absence of the translation of the text of the [EU] Association Agreement, the provision of excessive asymmetric privileges to European manufacturers - all this indicates that the EU was preparing to turn the Ukrainian economy into its raw material appendage".[57] He also believed that because "the current team" leading Ukraine response to "interference in Ukraine's internal affairs by EU and U.S. diplomats inspire serious doubt that the current team is able to protect Ukraine's economic interests".[57] "Therefore, before the adoption by the Ukrainian people of the direct decision on the choice of the vector of external integration any actions by the authorities on lobbying this policy are only political speculation, which has nothing to do with the will of the people and the protection of the economic interests of our country".[57]

In December 2013, the Kyiv Post newspaper called Medvedchuk "the undisputed leader of Russia's fifth column in Ukraine."[58]

Involvement in the 2014 pro-Russian conflict in Ukraine[edit]

Medvedchuk was present at negotiations with the armed separatist in the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces on 21 June 2014 to discuss President Petro Poroshenko peace plan although it was unclear whom he represented there.[59][60]

On 24 June 2014, the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) informed the OSCE that Medvedchuk was appointed their representative in the negotiations with the Ukrainian Government.[61] But, on 8 July 2014, self-proclaimed Prime Minister of the Donetsk People's Republic Alexander Borodai stated that Medvedchuk "has no right to represent either the Donetsk People's Republic or the Lugansk People's Republic" and that he was a "mediator in the negotiations".[62] About the negotiations, he wrote on his Facebook page on 28 June 2014, "Hope that a compromise will be found has appeared and we'll manage to find a way of the present situation, retaining the territorial integrity of Ukraine and restoring peace".[63] In further negotiations with the separatists, Medvedchuk was not involved,[64][65] until he became Ukraine's special representative for humanitarian affairs in the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine on 5 June 2015.[66][67]

In a 2018 interview with The Independent, Medvedchuk claimed that the United States was interfering in the affairs of what he called the "brotherly" nations Ukraine and Russia.[4] He claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted peace in Donbass and that Putin would do everything to protect eastern Ukrainians from repressions from Ukraine's "party of war".[4] He did admit that Russia was illegally arming separatist forces but that the United States, Nato and the EU were doing "the same" by providing weapons to Ukraine.[4] In an August 2016 interview with Radio Svoboda, Medvedchuk urged the Ukrainian authorities to "reach a consensus" directly with the militant leadership ("DPR" and "LPR"), because, according to him, "there is no other way to return these territories."[49]

On 19 February 2021, the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine included Medvedchuk and his wife, Oksana Marchenko, on the Ukrainian sanctions list, due to the financing of terrorism.[11] It was claimed he was channeling money from his Russia-based refinery to the separatists of the Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic.[44]


  • Father – Volodymyr Nesterovych Medvedchuk, born 5 September 1918, in a town of Kornyn, Kiev Governorate, Ukrainian State (today Zhytomyr Oblast).
  • Mother – Faina Hryhorivna Hulko, born 16 October 1925, in a village of Borshchahivka, Pohrebysche Raion, Berdychiv okruha, Ukrainian SSR (today Vinnytsia Oblast).
  • Marriages:
    • 1) Marina Lebedeva
    • 2) Natalya Gavrilyuk (born 1952)
    • 3) Oksana Marchenko (born 1973)
  • Children:
    • 1) Irina (born 1982) with Gavrilyuk
    • 2) Daryna (born 2004) with Marchenko

Medvedchuk's third wife, Oksana Marchenko, is a well-known TV presenter in Ukraine.[47]

In the 2019 Ukrainian parliamentary election, Medvedchuk's brother Serhiy lost as an Opposition Platform — For life candidate in single-seat constituency 105 (Luhansk Oblast).[68]


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  14. ^ "З РАННЬОЇ БІОГРАФІЇ". Ex Libris.
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  17. ^ a b c d (in Ukrainian) Medvedchuk's role: Yuriy Lytvyn and Vasyl Stus had one lawyer and died in the same camp, Ukrayinska Pravda (9 July 2020).
  18. ^ "Сучасність (журнал)" (PDF) (in Ukrainian).
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  25. ^ "Адвокат Медведчук лив на мене більше бруду, ніж прокурор – дисидент Кунцевич". Радіо Свобода (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  26. ^ a b c d KUCHMA'S MEN LINE UP FOR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, The Jamestown Foundation (10 June 2003).
  27. ^ a b c Small biography on Viktor Medvedchuk, Civil movement "Chesno" (in Ukrainian)
  28. ^ a b c d Medvedchuk says he returns to public politics, Kyiv Post (21 March 2012).
  29. ^ a b Medvedchuk Victor, Kyiv Post
  31. ^ Parliament ends speaker deadlock, Kyiv Post (10 July 1998).
  32. ^ Ukraine's parliament dismisses first deputy speaker, Kyiv Post (13 December 2001).
  33. ^ Medvedchuk emerges from shadows, Kyiv Post (27 January 2005).
  34. ^ Controversial Presidential Administration head Medvedchuk resigns, Kyiv Post (14 December 2004).
  35. ^ Revolution in Orange: The Origins of Ukraine's Democratic Breakthrough by Anders Aslund and Michael A. McFaul, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2006, ISBN 978-0-87003-221-9
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  37. ^ Party of the Regions, Tymoshenko Bloc top polls, The Ukrainian Weekly (2 April 2006) [summary of results right on the front page]
    (in Ukrainian) All-Ukrainian Union "Center" entry at the Databases ASD: Political parties in Ukraine
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  39. ^ (in Ukrainian) Медведчук перед виборами оселився у Facebook і інших соцмережах, Ukrayinska Pravda (14 March 2012).
  40. ^ (in Ukrainian) Електоральні орієнтації громадян України та ставлення до провідних політиків, Razumkov Centre (14 October 2013).
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  45. ^ a b Ukrainian President Signs Decree Imposing Sanctions Against Medvedchuk, Others With Ties To Kremlin, Radio Free Europe (19 February 2021)
  46. ^ a b Ukrainian businessman Medvedchuk and his Belarusian connections, (10 February 2021)
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  51. ^ "Ukraine drops EU plans and looks to Russia". Al Jazeera. 21 November 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
  52. ^ Medvedchuk can be one among the others behinds the attack to Chornovol Ukrayinska Pravda, 28 December 2013.
  53. ^ a b Activists came to Medvedchuk and have broken the gate Ukrayinska Pravda, 29 December 2013.
  54. ^ Medvedchuk to Euromaidan: You want a war? I'm skilled Ukrayinska Pravda, 29 December 2013.
  55. ^ People ask Medvedchuk to tell the history of his property Ukrayinska Pravda, 30 December 2013.
  56. ^ Medvedchuk wins slander lawsuit against Zabuzhko, Interfax-Ukraine (9 January 2014).
  57. ^ a b c Government continues political speculation about choice of Ukraine's integration vector - Medvedchuk, Interfax-Ukraine (9 January 2014).
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  60. ^ "Separatists in Ukraine agree to honor cease-fire". Washington Post.
  61. ^ (in Ukrainian) The separatists have informed the OSCE that Medvedchuk - that their representative, Ukrayinska Pravda (24 June 2014).
  62. ^ (in Ukrainian) Boroday explained why the gunmen went to the Slavic and the sympathy for Medvedchuk, Ukrayinska Pravda (8 July 2014).
  63. ^ Medvedchuk hopes compromise to be found during consultations on settling situation in east Ukraine, Interfax-Ukraine (28 June 2014).
  64. ^ "Medvedchuk won't be present at tripartite talks anymore". UKR Inform.
  65. ^ "Minsk hosting Ukraine-OSCE-Russia contact group meeting to settle conflict in eastern Ukraine". Столичное телевидение - СТВ.
  66. ^ Medvedchuk: Ukraine nixes '25-for-50' prisoner swap, Interfax-Ukraine (14 March 2014).
  67. ^ (in Ukrainian) Medvedchuk will represent Ukraine in the subgroup of Humanitarian Affairs Tripartite Working Group 1852, Ukrainian News Agency (5 June 2015).
  68. ^ "Брат Медведчука програв вибори в Раду". Українська правда.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Volodymyr Lytvyn
Head of the Presidential Administration
Succeeded by
Oleksandr Zinchenko