Ukraine handed over a key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin in change for a whole lot of prisoners of battle together with many captured in a landmark battle, a swap that outraged pro-Kremlin propagandists.
Viktor Medvedchuk was one of 55 individuals turned over to Russia in return for 215 Ukrainian prisoners, together with 188 who held out for months towards Russian assault on the Azovstal metal plant in the port metropolis of Mariupol early in the battle. Among the group that was returned to the federal government in Kyiv had been 108 members of the Azov brigade, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy mentioned in a press release late Wednesday.
Read more: How Ukraine Turned the Tide Against Russia
“It is not a pity to give Medvedchuk in exchange for real warriors,” Zelenskiy mentioned. Those handed over to Russia included “people who fought against Ukraine. And those who betrayed Ukraine,” he mentioned.
Medvedchuk, a Ukrainian citizen, was indicted on fees of treason and terrorist financing final 12 months in a case that Putin known as political. The tycoon who led the pro-Russia Opposition Platform social gathering that was banned following the invasion, fled home arrest when the battle began however was later captured by Ukrainian forces. He visited Moscow on quite a few events and met with Putin, who endorsed Medvedchuk in 2019 parliamentary elections.
Read more: The Untold Story of the Ukraine Crisis
Five Ukrainian commanders had been additionally freed as half of the deal given that they spent the remainder of the battle in Turkey beneath the non-public safety of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Zelenskiy mentioned. Five UK residents, two Americans and three different foreigners had been additionally launched as half of mediation efforts involving Saudi Arabia, he mentioned.
Russian battle bloggers and nationalist commentators reacted furiously to the discharge of Azov fighters that state tv and Kremlin officers have sought to forged as “Nazis” for months in efforts to justify Putin’s invasion. Many highlighted the timing of the swap on the identical day as Putin ordered a mobilization in Russia to name up 300,000 reservists to struggle in Ukraine.
Read more: Ukraine’s Offensive Is Pushing Russia Back—And Raising the Risks of Escalation
Police detained about 1,400 individuals at protests in 38 Russian cities Wednesday towards the mobilization order, in accordance with the OVD-Info monitoring group. Some of the male detainees had been handed draft notices.
The prisoner change with Ukraine is “unbelievable stupidity,” Igor Girkin, a former Russian intelligence colonel who turned a commander of pro-Moscow separatists in japanese Ukraine in 2014, mentioned on his Telegram channel that has more than 600,000 followers. The launch of Azov commanders amounted to “treachery” by officers, making a mockery of the call-up to struggle for Russia.
Read more: What the West Will Never Understand About Putin’s Ukraine Obsession
The speaker of Russia’s decrease home of parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, had mentioned in June that captured Azov fighters had been individuals with “hands covered in blood” who would face trial.
Ukrainians regard the Azovstal defenders as heroes for their resistance towards overwhelming odds earlier than they had been taken prisoner by Russia as half of a give up settlement in May handy over the enormous steelworks.
Zelenskiy had supplied Medvedchuk as half of a possible swap in April. At that point, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov mentioned “Medvedchuk is not a Russian citizen. He has nothing to do with the special military operation.”
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