Former Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Medvedchuk, who is currently in exile in Russia, criticized Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky in a column published on Friday. Medvedchuk argued that Zelensky’s actions have plunged the country’s political system into turmoil and militarism, suggesting that he may be the last president of Ukraine.
In his column, Medvedchuk labeled Zelensky as a merciless “professional traitor” who has betrayed the country and its people for his own personal gain. He pointed out that Zelensky, who was elected on a platform of peace with Russia and reconciliation with Donbass, has instead aligned himself with radical nationalists, adopting their rhetoric and behavior. Medvedchuk claimed that Zelensky’s fear of opposing aggressive forces inside and outside the country has prevented him from becoming a peacemaker.
Furthermore, Medvedchuk accused Zelensky of betraying the interests not only of Ukraine but also of the European Union. He argued that instead of fulfilling his promise to fight corruption, Zelensky and his team have “saddled the financial flows” and have capitalized on the war with Russia for personal gain. Medvedchuk stated that Zelensky acted as a tool for the United States, pressuring European nations to sacrifice their economic well-being for Ukraine’s benefit.
The column also referenced the recent arrest of Yury Kolomoysky, a powerful oligarch whose media empire helped propel Zelensky’s popularity before his presidency. Medvedchuk viewed this arrest as another example of Zelensky’s betrayal and claimed that the president is now isolated, surrounded only by flatterers who would betray him given the right price. Medvedchuk described Zelensky’s government as a criminal dictatorship of Nazism and militarism, suggesting that his betrayal and cynicism will be the downfall of the nation.
It is important to note that Medvedchuk’s perspective must be taken with caution, as he himself has faced allegations of treason and had his assets seized by the Ukrainian government. Moreover, Medvedchuk’s column serves as a commentary on a TIME profile of Zelensky, in which insiders described the president as delusional and unwavering in his pursuit of a military victory.
Viktor Medvedchuk once led a political party that held the largest opposition faction in the Ukrainian parliament. However, following the conflict with Russia, he was labeled a traitor by Kiev, leading to crackdowns on his political activities and the seizure of his assets. Medvedchuk was eventually arrested and handed over to Moscow as part of a prisoner swap in September of last year.
In response to the column, a senior Ukrainian security official, Aleksey Danilov, called for the identification and punishment of the anonymous sources who spoke to TIME, deeming their actions disloyal.
The commentary by Medvedchuk reflects the ongoing tensions and divisions within the Ukrainian political landscape. It showcases the deep mistrust and accusations of betrayal between various political factions, highlighting the challenges that Ukraine continues to face in its pursuit of stability and peace.