Ukraine swaps Putin ally for scores of Mariupol defenders held by Russia

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Ukraine has announced a high-profile captive swap aft months of efforts to escaped galore of the fighters who defended a alloy works successful Mariupol during a agelong Russian siege.

resident Volodymr Zelensky said his authorities had won state from Russian custody for 215 Ukrainian and overseas citizens, with the assistance of Turkish and Saudi mediation efforts.

He said galore were soldiers and officers who had faced the decease punishment successful Russian-occupied territory.


Viktor Medvedchuk with Vladimir Putin (Alamy/PA)

Viktor Medvedchuk with Vladimir Putin (Alamy/PA)

Viktor Medvedchuk with Vladimir Putin (Alamy/PA)

Of the total, 200 Ukrainians were exchanged for conscionable 1 antheral — pro-Russian absorption person Viktor Medvedchuk, who is Ukrainian.

The 68-year-old oligarch escaped from location apprehension successful Ukraine respective days earlier Russia’s penetration connected February 24 but was recaptured successful April.

He faced up to beingness successful situation connected charges of treason and aiding and abetting a violent organisation for mediating ember purchases for the separatist, Russian-backed Donetsk republic successful eastbound Ukraine.

Russian officials did not instantly remark connected what appeared to beryllium the biggest captive swap of the astir seven-month war.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is believed to beryllium the godfather of Mr Medvedchuk’s youngest daughter, and his detention sparked a heated speech betwixt officials successful Moscow and Kyiv.

It is not a pity to springiness up Medvedchuk for existent warriorsVolodymr Zelensky

He is the caput of the governmental assembly of Ukraine’s pro-Russian Opposition Platform-For Life party, the largest absorption radical successful Ukraine’s parliament. The authorities has suspended the party’s activity.

“It is not a pity to springiness up Medvedchuk for existent warriors,” Mr Zelensky said successful his nightly video speech.

“He has passed each the investigative actions provided by law. Ukraine has received from him everything indispensable to found the information successful the model of transgression proceedings.”

In different swap, Ukraine won the merchandise of 5 commanders who led Ukraine’s defence of the Azovstal alloy works successful Mariupol successful speech for 55 Russian prisoners it was holding, Mr Zelensky said.

More than 2,000 defenders, galore from the Azov Regiment, marched retired of the Azovstal alloy plant’s twisted wreckage into Russian captivity successful mid-May, ending a astir three-month siege of the larboard metropolis of Mariupol.


Volodymyr Zelensky (Julia Nikhinson/AP)

Volodymyr Zelensky (Julia Nikhinson/AP)

Volodymyr Zelensky (Julia Nikhinson/AP)

Mr Zelensky said the 5 leaders, including regiment commanders Denys Prokopenko and Svyatoslav Palamar, are successful Turkey, wherever they volition stay arsenic portion of the woody “in implicit safety” until the extremity of the war, nether the extortion of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The analyzable captive swap besides brought the merchandise of 10 foreigners, including 5 British nationals and 2 US subject veterans who had fought with Ukrainian forces.

They were released by Russian-backed separatists arsenic portion of an speech mediated by Saudi Arabia, US and Saudi officials said.

The Britons included Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin.

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres welcomed the exchanges, calling them “no tiny feat”, but added that “much much remains to beryllium done to easiness the suffering caused by the warfare successful Ukraine”, his spokesperson said.

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