Pro-Kremlin Ukrainian opposition politician Viktor Medvedchuk, who was jailed in April, is being exchanged with Russia as part of a prisoner swap, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Zelensky said 200 Ukrainian prisoners had returned home in exchange for Medvedchuk.
“First we were offered to return 50 of our people in exchange for one of those in the detention center of the Security Service of Ukraine. We talked. We insisted. The number of 50 increased to 200,” Zelensky said in his nightly address
Vasyl Maliuk, the acting head of the Ukrainian security service, said Medvedchuk “is not only a godfather to Putin’s children, but also a documented by us as a traitor.”
“Moreover, while working on the Medvedchuk case, we have neutralized multiple agent networks, detained multiple traitors and received a lot of valuable information that we use for counterintelligence and will bring us closer to our victory,” Maliuk added.
Five Ukrainian commanders were included in the prisoner exchange, as well as 55 prisoners who will be sent to Russia, according to Zelensky.
It is unclear whether the 55 prisoners are all Russians or pro-Russians, but Zelensky described them as people “who fought against Ukraine, and those who betrayed Ukraine.”
According to Andrii Yermak, head of the office of the President of Ukraine, a total of 215 prisoners of war have been released as part of an exchange of POWs between Russia and Ukraine, including ten foreign prisoners.
Among those freed from captivity today, there are 108 Azov fighters and other formations,” Yermak said. Those fighters from the controversial Azov battalion, part of the National Guard of Ukraine, which Russia previously called neo-Nazis.
Yermak also said that 10 foreigners were among those exchanged.
“Based on the requests of our international partners, we also returned 10 foreign defenders of Ukraine. These are the representatives of those countries, which help us the most – the United States, Great Britain, Croatia, Sweden and Morocco , “said Yermak.
The head of the State Property Fund, Rustem Umerov, said: “They are safe and freed from captivity. We are currently in the capital of Saudi Arabia – Riyadh. The further safe transfer is planned from here to their countries with our partners.” Yermak added.
The Coordinating Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War (CHTPW), a government agency under the Defense Intelligence Agency, said five Britons and two Americans are among the ten foreign prisoners.
“It should be noted that the release of foreign soldiers from captivity took place as part of the largest exchange since the full invasion of Russia,” CHTPW said Thursday.
“The freed heroes are awaiting rehabilitation and adjustment; they will receive the necessary treatment,” CHTPW added.