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Medvedchuk, a Kremlin ally, must remain under house arrest while awaiting trial in Ukraine

Medvedchuk, a Kremlin ally, must remain under house arrest while awaiting trial in Ukraine

A Ukrainian court on Tuesday ordered pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk to remain under house arrest until December after prosecutors intensified their investigation into his activities and accused him of financing separatist fighters.

Medvedchuk, who strongly denies wrongdoing, has been under house arrest since May, facing accusations of treason and attempting to plunder state funds in Crimea, a part of Ukraine that Russia annexed in 2014. read moreMedvedicchk, the lawyer for Medvvechchck, is currently under investigation for allegedly lying and plowing state assets in the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed last year. read lessMedvchenko, an international lawyer who

Medvedchuk had requested that a Kyiv court take him into custody instead of house arrest, claiming he posed hazard of flight or might attempt to pressure witnesses.

Medvedchuk's house arrest has been extended until Dec. 7 from Oct. 31 after the court denied their request.

Judge Vita Bortnytska said during a televised court hearing that the court "decided to apply... arbitrary restraint in the form of house arrest, prohibiting him to leave his residence round the clock".

Last week, officials said they had expanded their investigation into Medvedchuk, saying they suspected him of colluding with top officials to buy coal from mines in separatist-held areas of eastern Ukraine. read more

Medvedchuk, the Kremlin's most prominent ally in Ukraine, said the accusations were made to silence his criticism of government policies.

"The criminal case and the charges against me are absolutely unfounded," he said before the verdict. "It is an illegal criminal prosecution and political repression," he added.

Ukraine has been in a war with separatists in the eastern Donbass region, which is dominated by Russia, since 2014. Separatists seized land where coal mines were located and caused an extreme fuel shortage in the country.

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

Matthias Williams and Gareth Jones contributed to this article.

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