Viktor Medvedchuk, 68, is the leader of a Ukrainian political party, 'The Opposition Platform - For Life'. Last year, he was detained by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) as part of Kiev’s effort to obliterate the country’s opposition.
In January 2023, Medvedchuk, who was freed in a prisoner swap in September 2022, was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship by Ukraines President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Medvedchuk spent years lambasting Ukraine’s pro-Western politicians
and expressing the view that the country’s interests would best be met by forging closer ties with Moscow and Minsk.
In his interview with RT, he elaborated on the causes of the crisis.
RT: Mr. Medvedchuk, you had remained silent for a long time, and then finally you stepped out of the political shadows and wrote a remarkable op-ed for Izvestia. We will definitely talk about that piece, because you shared a lot of interesting things. But first, I would like to go back a little if I may. The last important event that we remember is when you were exchanged. When you first found out that you would be exchanged did you believe it would actually happen? Can you share what you felt that day?
Viktor Medvedchuk: Naturally, I felt a whole range of emotions. On the one hand, I was hoping that the exchange would really happen. On the other hand, I had serious doubts that it would. I was notified about the swap on September 20, 2022, and on the 21st, I was moved around a lot. First, we flew to Poland, and I spend 12-14 hours without leaving the plane. I realized that they were negotiating. I was guarded by officers from the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense and the Security Service of Ukraine. And they were constantly in communication with someone. I understood from their communications that the exchange wasn’t a done deal.
As we learned later, their doubts were unfounded. But the realization that the exchange would really happen came to me when we flew from Poland to Ankara. When I saw a Russian jet, I knew that it was happening. And, of course, I am truly grateful to Russia’s leadership for this exchange – they helped me and my family. It was a very difficult time in my life, and in the life of my family. I am thankful that I didn’t have to go through what I could’ve gone through in Ukraine. Because of the criminal cases against me that were fabricated in 2019-2020, I would’ve been sentenced to 15 years in prison – that’s what they told me and I believe they would’ve done it, even though there were no legal grounds for the prosecution.
RT: You came here after an exchange of POWs. What is your status now, what documents do you have, if I may ask?
Viktor Medvedchuk: Well, my current status is not a simple affair. I have been a citizen of Ukraine. I even have a Ukrainian passport. However, Zelensky is determined to destroy me as an opposition politician in his uncompromising fight against me.
First of all, he issued a command to continue litigation and investigations concerning criminal cases against me. My lawyers are defending my interests in Ukraine.
Second, he made a reckless or even crazy move to strip me of my citizenship based on the suspicion that I had Russian citizenship.
I have never had Russian citizenship. And there was no need to, because I am a Ukrainian politician, I have always been one.
I didn't go away, I didn't give up. I went on fighting, even under house arrest.
I kept on fighting even after the release as a result of the exchange, during these three months of long silence, as you said at the start of the interview. I would not call it silence. It's been a systemic effort to help not only Ukrainians, but also benefit the interests of both Ukrainian and Russian citizens, under the current circumstances and amid the hostilities, amid thousands of casualties, amid the destruction of infrastructure.
While the war is being waged in Ukraine, this war is not for Ukraine, but for the interests of the West, the US, the UK, and many other countries, which are having it out with Russia.
They have made Ukraine, through Zelensky's government, a kind of testing ground or a outpost in their showdown with Russia.
And so I have spent all these months putting a team back together. A lot of people came from Kiev. Many people are outside Ukraine - in Russia, Europe, Turkey. They are ready to continue to fight and have their say.
That's exactly what I laid out in my op-ed. I made the case for the voice of another Ukraine to heard in Russia, Ukraine and the West.
And we know for sure there is this other Ukraine. Zelensky claims to represent a united nation but that is a myth invented out of thin air. This unity has been built thanks to bayonets. He represents Ukraine, claiming the Ukrainian people have come together and stand strong in terms of anti-Russian narrative and yobbish Russophobia.
This is not true. Apart from the ‘anti-Russia,’ there are people in Ukraine who are afraid to talk about it publicly, but they have never supported the nature and content of the relationship between Ukraine and Russia that has emerged today. These people are Ukrainians. Just like me.
I believe it is a direct violation of the Constitution to deprive me of my Ukrainian citizenship. And it is not just my opinion. It is impossible to deprive a citizen of Ukraine of his citizenship except for a voluntary request. It contradicts not only the Constitution but it also contradicts an international convention, which forbids to do so if a person becomes stateless.
Ukraine has acceded to this international convention. Despite this, Zelensky continues his efforts to crush a political opponent through political repression, illegal criminal prosecution. It is a goal he has set for himself and is pushing towards it.
I have not changed my views even in the custody of Ukraine’s Security Service where I spent six months.
So I continue to fight. And today I want to voice the opinion of a different Ukraine, an opinion which some people are silent about, others are afraid to express. I want this voice to be heard loud and clear in Russia, in Ukraine and in the West. There are people who represent a different Ukraine. Not the Ukraine run by Banderites. The other Ukraine, which has nothing in common with the statements and policy of neo-Nazism pursued by Zelensky.
RT: You’ve said you’ve assembled a team.
Viktor Medvedchuk: I have.
RT: You are a proponent of a new Ukraine. In your article, you ‘ve said Ukraine needs a new movement to save it. You’re against it being a stage for geopolitical struggle.
Viktor Medvedchuk: You’re right. There are people who are against Zelensky’s policies. This other Ukraine must be heard. And it can be if it gets representation and raises its voice. If those who believe in this and ready to act could unite their supporters and say “no”… we’ve left Ukraine, true, but we’re Ukrainians. And we care about the future. Not the future of a new Ukraine, as you put it in your question, but the future of Ukrainians.
And I urge you to leave the issue of Ukraine’s future aside as Ukraine doesn’t actually exist today. It’s not a proper state. I’m an expert in constitutional law. Ukraine’s constitution says it’s an independent, sovereign, social democracy with the rule of law. None of it is true in its current state. It’s not independent or sovereign as it’s fallen under total external control of the West – the US and the UK since 2014. It’s not a social state with the rule of law. Look at what’s happening there: media are being banned with no regard for applicable judicial or constitutional procedures. Those who express different opinion are eliminated.
It’s not a real state anymore. Its economy is in shambles. Today, GDP is down over 30%. To put it into perspective: during the world economic crisis of 2008–2009 it was down 14%. And it was restored by 2013. Still, they couldn’t reach 2013 figures even in 2019–2021. The economy there is non-functioning. The industrial output is down 70%. Unemployment is at 35% It’s about 5–60 million of workplaces. The agriculture and industry are in decline, the prices are growing. This all means no social programs can be successfully implemented. Here’s an example: monthly minimum pension payment is 57 dollars. The poverty threshold is 70 dollars. Our audience can imagine the life with this pension minimum and poverty threshold. So the state is non-existent.
And that’s because its policies are based on neo-Nazism adopted by Zelensky and his clique. As long as this is the state ideology, it’s not simply incorrect to talk about this state’s future, it’s wrong. I propose to talk about the future of Ukrainians. Ukrainians who stayed in the country and don’t agree with Zelensky’s policy. Ukrainians who had to leave for the reasons I’ve mentioned earlier and live abroad now. Their perspective of disagreement and confrontation on political issues needs representation.
This is the goal set for the team I’ve assembled. This team is expanding every day, getting new supporters and those who’re ready to work towards its goals and explain what’s destroying the narrative of the Western ideology that has led to this anti-Russia hysteria and barbaric Russophobia. The ideology that has created “anti-Russia” in Ukraine with its values, influence and pressure. To destroy this ideology. For that, we need to reach the minds of people. Show them the truth and reality of what’s happening in Ukraine today. And after that, those people must discuss their future and demand it.
But this will only be possible after the militarist state is gone and after the country drops its neo-Nazi policies. With the current situation, no future Ukraine is possible. It’s unreal. And it will remain unreal if the current policy is maintained. But that’s what Zelensky is trying to do, trying to pit the entire West against Russia and using Ukraine to wage war in the interests of the West. Because the war in Ukraine today is not about Ukraine. It is about the interests of the West and is only waged in the interests of the West. We need to make this clear to people, we need to show them the facts that prove it.
RT: Do you think it’s possible to change things in Ukraine? Even if a new leader is elected, another oligarch or someone else, would they be able to solve the issue with the anti-Russian sentiment in Ukraine?
Viktor Medvedchuk: Your question contains two questions actually, two layers. First off, it is possible to reverse the anti-Russian sentiment. There are already people in Ukraine who don’t share it. I can’t tell how many, but I know for sure that these people exist. They are afraid to speak up or do anything, because they will be destroyed by the repressive machine, this lawless regime that has dismantled democracy and rule of law. There are no courts, there is nothing but instructions from Zelensky and his criminal inner circle. This can be changed if we work on it and explain things to people.
Here is an example. Let’s say a person left Ukraine and came to Russia. What do you think his or her views are? Do they consider Russia an aggressor? Of course not. Before February 24, about 2.5 million Ukrainians lived in Russia – studying, working, etc. This is official data.
Do you think they listened to Zelensky, left Russia and returned to Ukraine? Maybe some of them did. But very few. The rest have stayed. And how many millions arrived after February 24? How? They were forced to flee. I was forced to leave my country. Why do I have to forget about my home? The land where my parents are buried. The country that is so meaningful to me. Yes, I was born in Russia, near Krasnoyarsk. But when I was in second grade my family moved to Ukraine, and we have lived there ever since. It became my country. And I have done a lot for that country. When I was a government official, when I was a politician.
I don’t consider myself an enemy of the Ukrainian people. They wouldn’t have elected an enemy to the parliament. And was elected as an MP four times. I served four terms in the parliament. So it can be done. We need to reverse the trend that started in 2014 – the “anti-Russia” strategy, escalation of the anti-Russian hysteria and boorish Russophobia. And we can break this trend, I am sure.
Now as for your remark about another oligarch being elected to the highest office. States hold elections. And I already explained to you why there is no state in Ukraine right now. What kind of elections can we talk about? Yes, he can schedule a vote. But it would just mean that he will appoint himself as president and appoint MPs from his list. People who will listen to his every word and not think about what he is saying. And most importantly, not think critically about his actions. Everything is possible. But it is not an election.
Yes, unfortunately, some of our party members switched sides and now they support Zelensky, our enemy. But it doesn’t mean that we should give up. As you can see, I didn’t give up. Maybe I should just stop, considering my story and everything else that happened in my life. But I am not going to give up. I believe that it’s possible. Not only that, I think it must be done.
RT: What about your new movement that you wrote about in the op-ed that we will discuss later on? What has been the response by the Western media? What will Ukraine do under these circumstances?
Viktor Medvedchuk: This is a new political movement. It is a bid to demonstrate that Zelensky is, politely speaking, wrong. He claims that he is supported by a consolidated force of Ukrainian people, he claims that Russia should be destroyed and the West should be part of this effort. To this I say: no, it is not the real picture.
We must unite these people and find out what they really think. For some reason I am sure that they stand against the government and against Zelensky. This movement will debunk the fact that Ukraine has been whole-heartedly backing Zelensky and his criminal regime. That's our main goal today.
As for specific actions by this social movement or its representatives, that depends, I am sure, on millions of people in Russia, Ukraine, Europe.
These are millions of people who disagree with Zelensky's policies.
We need to bring them together. They need to be united by common ideas. They need to be united by common representation. And then we can talk and argue about the future of Ukraine and about their specific contribution to a bright and trouble-free future, as they used to say. I admit, though, that it is an uphill battle.
RT: But do you have a plan?
Viktor Medvedchuk: You know, I don’t have a plan, but plans. And I will definitely say it, including publicly, when it is time and when I see they could finally be put into action.
RT: What about your career?
Viktor Medvedchuk: Where?
RT: In Ukraine, of course. Maybe not.
Viktor Medvedchuk: Look, I am not looking for any positions. Neither before when I was active politically, nor today when I am in Russia after a six-month arrest.
I think ideas are the big thing today. Ideas attract supporters. Leaders will come next. Definitely. As soon as we have supporters, they will determine, who is the leader, and what is your place in the official hierarchy. The big issue in Ukraine is that there are leaders but there are no ideas. That is the problem. This should be addressed when we talk about the future of Ukrainians.
RT: So what’s next? What should the opposition do? An idea is not enough. What actions need to be taken?
Viktor Medvedchuk: I gave you an example. Ukraine has a leader but no idea. We have an idea. That means there will be a leader and there will be action. We must make it happen. As to how we’re going to do it – you will see. But we will do it, or at least try, there’s no doubt about that.
RT: So the Izvestia article is a first step?
Viktor Medvedchuk: Yes, it’s a first step. It is a first step. That’s certainly a first step.
RT: What’s the most important point in that article? And what do you think about the response from Western media? As far as I know, they focused on your mentioning nuclear war. They’re concerned about that.
Viktor Medvedchuk: Yes, that's what interests the West most of all. And I think it’s very valuable that they’ve heard it. Because it’s my point of view also – that we have two paths before us today. Either we defuse the tension, and that’s possible if everyone’s interests are taken into account – Russia and all other countries – including security interests. Or we escalate the tension, which may lead to a world war. Because how else can you call the current situation, when practically all 30 NATO countries, including those who only aspire to attain this high status, are sending weapons and military equipment, shipping them to the launch pad that the West, the US and the UK, are renting from Zelensky.
For some reason, this launch pad is called “Ukraine”. And everything is happening there. How else can you call this? This is why I’m speaking about this: because it may all end in a nuclear conflict. We cannot rule that out. Seeing as the West now serves as an obedient resource for Zelensky, who mentors Western politicians in his appeals, instructing them on how to bring their countries to poverty, as he helped do in Ukraine. Now he “inspires” the West to wage a war against Russia, urging it to destroy Russia. They must understand what this will lead to. So it wasn’t just a random reference. It is my point of view, and I stated it openly.
And that wasn’t the only thing they paid attention to. They also noticed Medvedchuk talked about the other Ukraine, that’s important. And this term can be heard in the discussion in Ukraine. Medvedchuk… And the talks began. The government. Almost like in your question. A government in exile. No problem. But when established, it always stays in exile. It has always been this way. That’s not what we need.
We need to destroy Zelensky’s ideology. He thinks Ukraine is united and everyone supports him, the war and there’s no one who wants peace or a different future, while we believe that these people exist and they’re Ukrainians as well. They have the right to speak their minds. They have the right to speak and be heard.
RT: Before the interview you’ve noted quite curiously that Zelensky listens to the UK even more than it does to the US. Why so?
Viktor Medvedchuk: I can answer that. Based on the analytical data, not wartime, but before, since 2019, especially after his visit to the UK and everything else. The UK’s influence is greater than that of the US and the rest of the West. It’s the UK that pulls the strings in Ukraine and is a major external controller.
And they know, I mean Zelensky and his entourage, they’ll be fine no matter what happens in Ukraine. They’ll go away and have a happy life. That’s why they didn’t hesitate to let their country be torn apart and drained of the last drops of prosperity. They let it become an arena for battle between Russia and the West.
RT: And what was their plan?
Viktor Medvedchuk: They have only one plan. This clash was meant to weaken Russia. Today, we witness how it goes. The victory of Ukraine… We all know it’s impossible due to certain objective reasons. But it could ignite internal struggle, fuel processes that could weaken Russia and its leadership – that’s the West’s plan which Zelensky and his team are trying to pull off.
RT: There’s been no internal struggle in Russia yet.
Viktor Medvedchuk: Thank God!
RT: Do you believe Zelensky could hold on to his power for long?
Viktor Medvedchuk: His fate is unknown to me. But I must say, I’d very much love to see him answer for all he’s done to Ukraine and its people. He’s destroyed the country. He’s thrown it into the fires of war. This is his fault. I’d like to remind you what many forget these days, unfortunately. About what’d happened just before February 24.
I was giving interviews a lot and I talked about that as well. About the need to avoid war, to do everything we can to prevent it. Could Zelensky do something? I’m positive: he could. And moreover, he had to. He had to follow the Minsk Accords. You’ve heard Merkel’s and Hollande’s revelations. And even Poroshenko’s trying to play along.
RT: No one was going to abide by them.
RT: Well, how do you make sure that the next leader would not do the same thing?
Viktor Medvedchuk: We have to eradicate... The op-ed I wrote focused heavily on causes. They account for more than half of the story. What happened after the end of the Cold War...
RT: Building something new, a new world.
Viktor Medvedchuk: Yes. And the evolution of those events. So, we must eradicate the causes that led to what we have today, and this is how we can rule it out in the future.
We can only do it when neo-Nazism no longer dominates state policies, when there is no militarist state, when people in Ukraine, I emphasize again, would be able to talk about the future of Ukrainians, not the future of the country. There will be a different future. That is the main area that we want to focus on today.
RT: An independent Ukraine.
Viktor Medvedchuk: I did not say so. I said the future...
RT: The future of Ukrainians…
Viktor Medvedchuk: The future of Ukrainians. The future Ukrainians. As to what country and how they will live that shall be decided by Ukrainians who represent a different Ukraine today.
RT: Mr Medvedchuk, thank you very much.