Metal plant defenders, Putin ally exchanged in prisoner swap

Metal plant defenders, Putin ally exchanged in prisoner swap

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine introduced a high-profile prisoner swap early Thursday that culminated months of efforts to free most of the Ukrainian fighters who defended a metal plant in Mariupol throughout a protracted Russian siege. In change, Ukraine gave up an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

President Volodymr Zelensky mentioned his authorities had gained freedom from Russian custody for 215 Ukrainian and international residents. He mentioned many had been troopers and officers who had confronted the dying penalty in Russian-occupied territory.

Russia officers didn’t instantly verify or in any other case touch upon the swap.

Of the overall, 200 Ukrainians had been exchanged for only one man — pro-Russian opposition chief Viktor Medvedchuk, who’s Ukrainian. The 68-year-old oligarch escaped from home arrest in Ukraine a number of days earlier than Russia’s invasion Feb. 24 however was recaptured in April. He confronted as much as life in jail on costs of treason and aiding and abetting a terrorist group for mediating coal purchases for the separatist, Russia-backed Donetsk republic in jap Ukraine.

Ukrainian Inside Minister Denys Monastyrsky, second left, talks Denys Prokopenko, second proper, who was launched within the prisoner change.

Putin is believed to be the godfather of Medvedchuk’s youngest daughter. His detention sparked a heated change between officers in Moscow and Kyiv. Medvedchuk is the pinnacle of the political council of Ukraine’s pro-Russian Opposition Platform-For Life celebration, the biggest opposition group in Ukraine’s parliament. The federal government has suspended the celebration’s exercise.

“It’s not a pity to surrender Medvedchuk for actual warriors,” Zelensky mentioned in a publish on his web site. “He has handed all of the investigative actions offered by legislation. Ukraine has acquired from him every part needed to ascertain the reality within the framework of legal proceedings.”

In one other swap, Ukraine gained the discharge of 5 extra residents in change for 55 Russian prisoners it was holding, Zelensky mentioned.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Andriy Yermak speak with the exchanged Ukrainian prisoners on Sept. 21, 2022.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Andriy Yermak converse with the exchanged Ukrainian prisoners on Sept. 21, 2022.
Anadolu Company by way of Getty Pictures

U.N. Secretary-Basic Antonio Guterres welcomed the exchanges, calling them “no small feat,” however including that “way more stays to be carried out to ease the struggling attributable to the battle in Ukraine,” his spokesman mentioned. The U.N. chief reiterates the necessity to respect worldwide legislation on the remedy of prisoners and can proceed to help additional prisoner exchanges, spokesman Stephane Dujarric mentioned.

In keeping with Zelensky, lots of these freed belonged to Ukraine’s Azov regiment, whom he known as heroes. Greater than 2,000 defenders, many within the Azov unit, marched out of the Azovstal metal plant’s twisted wreckage into Russian captivity in mid-Might, ending an almost three-month siege of the port metropolis of Mariupol. 5 of the launched Azov commanders at the moment are residing in Turkey, in keeping with a publish on Zelensky web site.

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