The return of the godfather: How Putin's best friend in Ukraine is staging an improbable comeback
He is known to his critics as Ukraineâs Prince of Darkness, a toxic presence. But Viktor Medvedchuk would like people to know that heâs back.
The former lawyer, a man who counts Russian president Vladimir Putin as godfather to his child, was one of the very first people to be included on US sanctions lists.
He was largely sidelined and forgotten after the Euromaidan protests. Yet the pro-Russian operator seems to be engineering an improbable comeback, leveraging in his position as the only Ukrainian capable of negotiating with the Kremlin. He was invited to become a special representative at the Minsk peace process â" aimed at ending the conflict in eastern Ukraine - and is in charge of prisoner exchanges.
He says he will now put himself forward for election to parliament â" on the lists of a new party, Za zhittya [for life].
Following the news, and a rare, extended TV interview, Kiev has filled with speculation about his long-term aims. Some say he is angling to become speaker in the next parliament. Others suggest he is looking to become the de facto leader of the countryâs pro-Russian minority.
In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Mr Medvedchuk offered little clarity on his political aims. He claimed he had no intention to âjostle for positionsâ. But as if to underline his predilection for the shadows of politics, he added formal positions meant nothing â" not in a government that had has âlost its entire point of beingâ.