The figure of the fellow of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the head of the political council of the “Opposition platform for life” of Viktor Medvedchuk is actively discussed in the media. The politician has a chance to bring a considerable number of people's deputies to Parliament, he buys TV channels in Ukraine, cherishes dreams to become the speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of the future convocation. "Apostrophe" inquired about the future plans of Medvedchuk in Ukrainian politics.
Media Mogul Medvedchuk
In June it became known that a close associate of Viktor Medvedchuk, the People's Deputy from "Oppositional block" Taras Kozak, who is going to the next convocation on the list of "For life", bought another TV channel - ZIK, that entered the media holding "News". This holding already owns the channel 112 and NеwsOne. They even earlier began to belong to Kozak, to be exact — to Medvedchuk as Kozak is a long-time business and the political colleague of the odious politician. The holding was headed by the former head of the TV channel "Priamyi", producer Oleksii Semenov, who previously was also engaged in the promotion of channels 112 and NewsOne.
After ZIK was purchased by Medvedchuk, the talks about censorship started, as well as the talks about the appearance of TV presenters with a more Pro-Russian rhetoric and the mass emergence on the channel of the representatives of the "Opposition platform". Employees began to quit from the channel. There was even an application to the SSU, the national Council on television and radio broadcasting and to President Volodymyr Zelensky with a request to intervene in the "creeping intervention of Russia in the Ukrainian media space".
"Apostrophe" also addressed the Office of the President to comment on the situation, but at the time of publication of this material the answer has not yet been received.
Viktor Medvedchuk's plans do not end up with the acquisition of three TV channels. This is not surprising – the politician could appreciate the broad possibilities of media influence on society in the era of Leonid Kuchma and the famous rules that set guidelines on what can be covered and how it should be covered in the media.
As previously "Apostrophe" wrote, Vladimir Putin's fellow plans to buy two more TV channels — "Priamyi" and "Channel 5", affiliated with ex-President Petro Poroshenko. According to the informed interlocutor, as of the end of June, a preliminary agreement with Poroshenko has already been reached. The deal was planned taking into account the preservation of 25% of the quota of the ex-President and his team, as well as the representation of his political force on the air.
The publication on "Apostrophe" caused a great resonance in the media and society. After it the channel "Priamyi" even held the meeting with the nominal owner of the channel, ex- head of the Kyiv city administration Volodymyr Makeienko and Petro Poroshenko who hurried to calm employees and informed that Medvedchuk would not buy "Priamyi": "Some journalists were gathered, there was Makeenko there who told that in case of channel sale, Poroshenko would learns about it first. This conversation took place in the presence of Poroshenko".
However, many people realized that the deal would not happen, at least until the elections, but it is unknown what will happen after the election. "Besides, at this meeting Svitlana Orlovska was presented as the new Head of the channel instead of Yevhenia Zakharova," the source of “Apostrophe” noted. However, the interlocutors of “Apostrophe” said that due to the resonance, the purchase could simply be postponed, but nobody would completely abandon this idea. "Poroshenko now needs to understand how much interest he takes, who will gets to the Parliament and what the effect will be. But it will be problematic to maintain two channels in the future, given that he does not like to spend his money on it. And Medvedchuk wants to create a full-fledged media holding," one of the MPs told to “Apostrophe”. In addition, negotiations are already underway on the transition of a number of journalists from "Priamyi" to ZIK, in particular, Svitlana Orlovska and Matvii Hanapolsky.
Medvedchuk's ambitions do not end with the expansion of his media empire. According to all the latest sociological polls, his political force "Opposition platform for life" can gain about 12% of votes. It means that it will be able to bring about 40 deputies to Verkhovna Rada. Thus, the Medvedchuk fraction will be either the second or the third largest in the new Parliament and can enter the future coalition, as the presidential party "Servant of the people" is unlikely to organize it independently.
The head of the Office of the President Andrii Bohdan in his last interview made it clear that the "Servant of the people" situationally is not against the unification with the party "For life". Though informally the interlocutors in party told "Apostrophe" that the party is not going to unite with Medvedchuk's party, but also intends to disturb their work in the Parliament of the next convocation.
Medvedchuk's team also understands that not everything will go smooth in the future Parliament at them. One of his closest associates told "Apostrophe" that the desire to become the speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, which Medvedchuk nurtured for quite a long time, is not yet achievable. "He wanted to move from the status of "gray cardinal" and get the post of speaker, but now there is an understanding that there will not be enough votes in Parliament. The fraction that will have the majority, that is, the "Servant of the people" will purport for it, and the second or the third one can purport for the position of the Prime Minister," commented one of the people's deputies in the team of Medvedchuk.
Besides, according to "Apostrophe", the "Servant of the people" took efforts to gradually take away the electorate from the party "For life". "This explains some of Bohdan's statements, for example, their flirtation with the pro-Russian electorate, talks about the language. They realized that the political force of Medvedchuk is taking away their rating and finally decided to do it," one of the deputies commented to "Apostrophe". Not only rating Zelensky’s team decided to take away rating from the party "For life", but so did the "Opposition bloc" affiliated with the oligarch Rinat Akhmetov.
But not all the interviewed people's deputies are sure that Medvedchuk will really create some problems. Moreover, earlier in the list of the "Servant of the people" there were several people, one way or another associated with Medvedchuk. For example, NewsOne TV presenter Dmytro Spivak, who was number 33 in the list, however, after the resonance he was expelled. But number 22 on the list - Andrii Lholodov, which the media has also been associated with Medvedchuk, is still there. "In any case, the "Servant of the people" will have to unite with someone. May be, it will be the "Voice" or Tymoshenko, but they are so unprincipled that peace may join with Medvedchuk. Just look at how they behaved lately with the Constitutional court, the lobbying for the abolition of lustration," one of the independent MPs said.
In addition, Medvedchuk is now trying on the role of alternative negotiator with Vladimir Putin on the issues of Donbass and the liberation of prisoners of war. The strengthening of this role, as the sources of "Apostrophe" say, is now even more interesting for Medvedchuk than the position of the speaker in the Parliament. According to several interlocutors of "Apostrophe", Medvedchuk has a conflict with the assistant of Vladimir Putin, the secret curator of the territories occupied by Russia Vladislav Surkov. Therefore, Medvedchuk has to become the main bridge between Putin and the new Ukrainian power.
This desire was partly due to the recent release of four prisoners of Ukrainians, which Medvedchuk sumptuously presented on the TV channels owed by him. There is a rumor that it was done not only to increase the ratings of the political force of Medvedchuk, but also to present him as an effective communicator with the President of Russia. "Medvedchuk is ready to conduct his activities as a non-public negotiator, as it was before, but now he is not involved in the Minsk process, and Zelensky is in a difficult situation: he cannot negotiate with Putin himself, but the active play up to Medvedchuk, too, does not work," one of the interlocutors in the Ukrainian authorities said.
According to political scientist Mykhailo Basarab, it seems that along with the official President Zelensky "the Governor-General Medvedchuk is being strengthened, who received the "Khan's label" from Moscow." "It seems that even Bohdan works at a combination when Zelensky will be just a plug or a waxwork, and the Medvedchuk will be the actual ruler of Ukraine. Bohdan makes bold statements that he should not make. At the same time, Bohdan sometimes says that the President's Office and the President himself are some different institutions, and Medvedchuk goes to Moscow to negotiate cheap gas and promises to reduce tariffs. Then Medvedchuk arrogantly allegedly buys TV market of Ukraine in the gross. At the same time, a claim is sent to the CCU regarding the abolition of decommunization and lustration," Basarab explained his opinion.