Azov Battalion chief and other Ukrainian commanders among POWs freed by Russia
Russia has released 215 Ukrainian prisoners, including military commanders who organized the resistance at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, in the biggest prisoner exchange between the two sides since the start of the war. Among those released are the commander of the Azov Battalion, Denis Prokopenko, and his second.
Serghei Volinski, the commander of the 36th Marine Rifle Brigade, the other military unit that took part in the fighting at Azovstal, was also released.
On the other camp, Ukraine released four times less people, but among them is also “Putin’s ally”, Viktor Medvedchiuk, arrested
Viktor Medvedchiuk, whose pro-Russia political party is the second largest in the Kyiv parliament, is a Ukrainian citizen but has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom he used to spend holidays on the Black Sea. The Kremlin leader is, moreover, the godfather of his daughter. That is precisely why, since the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine, his name has been circulated as a potential replacement for President Volodymyr Zelensky, preferred by Moscow.by the Ukrainian secret services following a spectacular operation and accused of treason, and other 55 Russian prisoners as well.
The release of the fighters from Azovstal is an unexpected move, Reuters reports, while recalling that last month pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk announced that they would be tried by a special court, accused of being Nazis.
According to public broadcaster Suspline, the exchange of prisoners took place near the city of Chernihiv in northern Ukraine.
Also on Wednesday, Saudi Arabia announced that Russia had released ten foreign prisoners of war captured in Ukraine following a mediation by Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky held a video call with some of the freed prisoners on Wednesday night, praising them for their courage and vowing to continue efforts to free all those held by Russia.