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Ukraine exchanges an oligarch allied with Putin for 215 prisoners, including 108 members of the Azov Battalion
Ukraine has exchanged the pro-Russian politician and oligarch close to the Kremlin Víktor Medvechuc, arrested in kyiv months ago, for more than 200 Ukrainian prisoners, including a hundred soldiers from the so-called Azov Battalion who defended the Russian siege of the Azovstal steel mill for three months. Mariupol and whom the Ukrainian Government considers heroes. In addition, there are another 10 prisoners of other nationalities who were held by the Russian army.
The exchange of prisoners took place this Wednesday after months of negotiations between the two countries, since last April Medvedchuk himself, close to Russian President Vladimir Putin and then detained by the kyiv authorities, asked through a video be exchanged for Ukrainian civilians and soldiers resisting in Mariupol.
The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, said tonight about the exchange of Ukrainian prisoners for the pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuc: “Exchange us a fan of Russia for 200 warriors… It is a good result.”
During the exchange carried out in the last few hours, Ukraine has received 215 prisoners, including 124 Ukrainian officers, according to the head of the President’s Office, Andriy Yermak, to President Volodymyr Zelensky during a telephone call with those released.
Among the released Ukrainian prisoners are 108 members of the Azov battalion, including its main commander, Denis Prokopenko, Redisand others considered Ukrainian “heroes” such as Yevgeni Bova, Lev Pashko or Dmitro Kozatski, Orest, the photographer from Azovstal. In a Telegram message, Zelenski celebrated the release of these “heroes” and “heroines”, such as Katerina Polishchuk and Valentina Zubko or Mariana Mamonova, Yana Shumovetska and Anastasia Chernenka, as “a victory for our state, for our society”, who They were captured while pregnant, Ukrainian authorities have noted. In addition, five more citizens were released in exchange for 55 Russian prisoners, according to information from Ukraine.
Almost all of the freed Ukrainians are already on Ukrainian territory, except for the five commanders of the Azov Regiment, who, according to agreements previously reached with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, are in Turkey “under his personal guarantees of protection.” The 10 foreign prisoners were sent to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, where they have been accompanied by the head of the State Property Fund, Rustem Umerov. They are five citizens of Great Britain, two from the United States, one from Morocco, one from Sweden and one from Croatia.
“The enemy sentenced them to a long prison sentence or the death penalty. We save their lives. All of them will return home through the mediation of Saudi Arabia. I am sincerely grateful to everyone who contributed for their help!” Zelensky said in the evening speech.
“Today we directly exchanged 200 citizens of Ukraine for Mr. Medvedchuk. I would like to point out that Medvedchuk is not just a close friend of Putin, but a well-documented state traitor. His guilt is fully recorded in the relevant materials,” said Vasyl Maliuk, acting head of the Ukrainian Security Service, who explained that during the investigation of Viktor Medvedchuk’s cases “several subversive networks were neutralized, traitors of the State and a large amount of information was obtained, which is used in counterintelligence activities.”
The pro-Russian politician and oligarch Victor Medvedchuk, 67, arrested on April 12, has been considered for 20 years the main agent of influence of the Kremlin in Ukrainian politics, especially in Donbas. For many Ukrainians, he is the quintessential “traitor” because of his close ties to Russia. (Agencies)
In the image, provided by the Ukrainian Government, Viktor Medvedchuk, after his arrest by the Ukrainian authorities last April.