Ukraine sanctions politician and Putin ally Medvedchuk

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KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s national security council on Friday placed sanctions on Viktor Medvedchuk, a politician and tycoon who is a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, freezing his assets for three years and preventing him from doing business in the country.

The security council accused him of “financial terrorism,” but details were not immediately available.

The move came two weeks after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy ordered the closure of three Medvedchuk-owned television channels that he accused of spreading propaganda financed by “the aggressor country” — a reference to Russia.

Medvedchuk is the head of the political council of the pro-Russia Opposition Platform — For Life party, which is the largest opposition group in the Ukrainian parliament; he is one of the party’s 44 deputies in the 450-seat house.

He has friendly personal ties with Putin, who is the godfather of Medvedchuk’s daughter.

The sanctions were also imposed on Medvedchuk's business partner Taras Kozak and both men's wives.

Security council spokesman Alexei Danilov said the four own an oil refinery in Russia that delivers fuel and petroleum products to the area of eastern Ukraine that has been under control of Russia-backed separatists since 2014.

He also said the state would take control of the section of a diesel fuel pipeline from Russia that lies in Ukraine. Some Ukrainian news media reports have identified Medvedchuk as an owner of that pipeline section.

Medvedchuk's party denounced the sanctions, saying in a statement that “Ukraine today is one step closer to dictatorship.”