Wife of captured Ukrainian opposition leader pleads to Erdogan
Ukrainian TV star Oksana Marchenko, the wife of the country's arrested opposition leader Viktor Medvedchuk, released a video on Wednesday pleading to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to assist in freeing her husband.
She claims her husband was illegally captured at the personal request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday and is being held as a hostage at an unknown location.
“Earlier, they tried to convict my husband in a political trial. My husband did not violate any laws. Everything that is happening completely contradicts the legal foundations of the Ukrainian state and international law. I consider my husband’s abduction to be terrorism,” said Marchenko.
Viktor Medvedchuk, who heads the Opposition Platform – For Life party, which was the second-largest faction in the Ukrainian parliament, was arrested on Tuesday by the SBU, Ukraine’s security service. The arrest was made public after president Zelensky published a photo of his handcuffed rival, whom he has accused of treason over dealings with Crimea, and being a “pro-Russian” politician.
Medvedchuk, who opposed the 2014 Kiev Maidan, and believes the country's Western turn to be detrimental to Ukraine's interests, has led his party since 2018. He previously served as Chief of Staff to former President Leonid Kuchma, in the early 2000s.
Some Western commentators have labelled him as Vladimir Putin's "closest ally in Ukraine." However, the Russian President has described Medvechuk as a "Ukrainian nationalist."
Marchenko called on president Erdogan, who she said stands for peaceful dialogue and considers himself a friend to both Ukraine and Russia, to help free her husband, as she fears for his life.
“As the saying goes, “A friend is known on a rainy day.” Well, that rainy day has come for me and my family, my husband and my children. I am very worried for Viktor’s life. You command a lot of authority. You are respected and people listen to you. I ask you, dear mister president, to use your influence to save and free my husband, Viktor Medvedchuk,” she concluded.
Erdogan has been striving to take a neutral stance in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine and has called for the conflict to be resolved peacefully. He has offered his assistance in the negotiating process between Moscow and Kiev, proposing even to act as a mediator for the eventual talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky.
Turkey has also officially refused to supply its weapons to Ukraine, which include the Russian-made S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems, however, Baykar Defense – a private Turkish arms company known for its Bayraktar TB2 drones – has nevertheless been providing Kiev with its products and has sold a significant amount of drones before the conflict began in late February.