Medvedchuk, a Kremlin ally, is ordered to remain under house arrest by a Ukrainian court.

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After prosecutors expanded their investigation into his activities and accused him of financing separatist fighters, a Ukrainian court ordered pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk to remain under house arrest until December.

Medvedchuk, who vehemently denies any wrongdoing, has been under house arrest since May, accused of treason and attempting to plunder state resources in Crimea, a region of Ukraine annexed by Russia in 2014.

Prosecutors had asked a Kyiv court to take Medvedchuk into custody rather than house arrest, claiming that he posed a flight risk or might try to put pressure on witnesses.

The court decided “to apply a measure of restraint in the form of house arrest, forbidding him to leave his place of residence round the clock”, judge Vita Bortnytska said at a televised court hearing.

Last week law enforcement officials said they had widened their investigation into Medvedchuk and that they suspected him of colluding with top officials to buy coal from mines in separatist-held areas of eastern Ukraine.

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Medvedchuk, the Kremlin’s most prominent ally in Ukraine, said the charges were trumped up to silence his criticism of government policy.

“The criminal case and the charges against me are completely groundless and unfounded,” he said before the verdict. “I regard it as an illegal criminal prosecution and political repression.”

Ukraine has been at war with Russian-backed separatists in the eastern Donbass region since 2014. It faced an acute fuel shortage after separatists seized territory where coal mines were located.

Medvedchuk, whose political party is the second largest in parliament, is a Ukrainian citizen but has close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin and has said the Russian leader is godfather to his daughter.


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