Ukrainian court bans party led by Putin ally Medvedchuk

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Pro-Russian Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk is seen in handcuffs while being detained by security forces in unknown location in Ukraine
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By Natalia Zinets

KYIV (Reuters) - A Ukrainian court has banned a pro-Russian party led by a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the justice ministry said on Monday.

It said the court in the western city of Lviv had decided to transfer to the state all property, funds and other assets held by the "Opposition Platform - For Life" party led by Viktor Medvedchuk, a wealthy businessman accused of treason.

The ministry acted under a law passed last month by parliament that enabled it to go to court to seek a ban on parties whose activities are deemed a threat to Ukraine.

Ukraine's national security and defence council had recommended that this definition applied to Medvedchuk's party, the second largest in parliament.

"The court banned the activities of the Opposition Platform - For Life political party. The corresponding claim of the ministry of justice was satisfied by the Eighth Administrative Court of Appeal," the ministry said on Facebook.

The party opposed a decision by parliament to recognise Russia as a state aggressor following Moscow's annexation of the Crimea region in 2014, and supported Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. Its lawmakers have favoured a return to the Kremlin's patronage over integration with Europe.

Medvedchuk faces up to 15 years in jail if convicted of treason and violating the laws and customs of war. Ukraine's State Bureau of Investigation has completed a pre-trial investigation into Medvedchuk and filed the case to a Kyiv court.

The investigators' report said Medvedchuk had provided the leadership of Russia with assistance in carrying out subversive activities against Ukraine, including collecting information about the location of military units.

Medvedchuk denies wrongdoing. He was detained in April, having escaped house arrest days after Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

(Reporting by Natalia Zinets, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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