KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — 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 an extended Russian siege. In trade, Ukraine gave up an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
President Volodymr Zelenskky stated his authorities had gained freedom from Russian custody for 215 Ukrainian and overseas residents. He stated many have been troopers and officers who had confronted the loss of life penalty in Russian-occupied territory.
Russia officers didn’t instantly affirm or in any other case touch upon the swap.
Of the full, 200 Ukrainians have 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 fees of treason and aiding and abetting a terrorist group for mediating coal purchases for the separatist, Russia-backed Donetsk republic in japanese Ukraine.
Putin is believed to be the godfather of Medvedchuk’s youngest daughter. His detention sparked a heated trade between officers in Moscow and Kyiv. Medvedchuk is the top of the political council of Ukraine’s pro-Russian Opposition Platform-For Life occasion, the most important opposition group in Ukraine’s parliament. The federal government has suspended the occasion’s exercise.
“It’s not a pity to surrender Medvedchuk for actual warriors,” Zelenskyy stated in a put up on his web site. “He has handed all of the investigative actions supplied by regulation. Ukraine has acquired from him the whole lot vital to ascertain the reality within the framework of felony proceedings.”
In one other swap, Ukraine gained the discharge of 5 extra residents in trade for 55 Russian prisoners it was holding, Zelenskyy stated.
U.N. Secretary-Normal Antonio Guterres welcomed the exchanges, calling them “no small feat,” however including that “way more stays to be completed to ease the struggling brought on by the struggle in Ukraine,” his spokesman stated. The U.N. chief reiterates the necessity to respect worldwide regulation on the therapy of prisoners and can proceed to help additional prisoner exchanges, spokesman Stephane Dujarric stated.
In accordance with Zelenskyy, 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 a virtually three-month siege of the port metropolis of Mariupol. 5 of the launched Azov commanders at the moment are dwelling in Turkey, in keeping with a put up on Zelenskyy’s web site.
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