Release opposition leader, EU tells Ukraine's Zelensky – media
European Union leaders have reportedly expressed concern over restrictions on one of Kiev’s top politicians and sanctions on domestic news outlets.
A top Ukrainian news site has reported that EU officials have called on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to release Viktor Medvedchuk, the leader of the country’s largest opposition party. The politician was placed under house arrest earlier this year.
Strana, which was banned in the country in February, reported on Thursday that European heads of state who met with Zelensky in Brussels last week demanded he rescind restrictive measures on political opposition in the country, including lifting the sanctions on media critical of his government.
They purportedly also demanded that he release Viktor Medvedchuk, who has been confined to his home since he was arrested in May and is facing treason charges. Strana cited an anonymous diplomat who claimed to have been privy to the discussions.
According to the source, EU leaders told Zelensky that easing the restrictions on domestic opposition would contribute to calming tensions with Russia, and would also help settle the domestic political situation in Ukraine. These suggestions, however, were not officially made public, and were given to the Ukrainian side confidentially, the report continues.
Medvedchuk, the leader of Opposition Platform – For Life, the second-largest party in the country’s parliament, was detained by security officials earlier this year on charges of conspiring with Moscow to disrupt coal supplies to Ukraine from South Africa in 2014. He argued that this was a purely political move, calling the case “absurd” and saying that Ukrainian authorities had absolutely no evidence for the alleged crime.
In an exclusive interview with RT earlier this year, Medvedchuk accused Zelensky of engaging in a “political” campaign of prosecution of politicians critical of the government in Kiev. He also alleged that Zelensky was attempting to establish a “dictatorship” in the face of falling popularity.