Ukraine exchanges Medvedchuk for 215 prisoners, including the heroes of Azov

Ukraine has exchanged the pro-Russian politician and oligarch close to the Kremlin Viktor Medvechucdetained in kyiv months ago, by more than two hundred Ukrainian prisoners, including those he considers “heroes” of the Azov Regimentand ten other captives of other nationalities who were held by Russian soldiers.

The exchange of prisoners took place this Wednesday after months of negotiations between the two countries, since last April Medvedchuk himself, compadre of the Russian president Vladimir Putin and then arrested by the kyiv authorities, he asked through a video to be exchanged for Ukrainian civilians and soldiers who resisted in Mariupol.

The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyhas affirmed tonight about the exchange of Ukrainian prisoners for the pro-Russian politician Víktor Medvedchuc: “Exchange us a Russian fanatic 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, who were held by the Russians, the head of the President’s Office, Andriy Yermak, told President Volodymyr Zelensky during a phone call. with the released

Among the released Ukrainian prisoners are 108 members of the “Azov” Regiment, who held out for more than eighty days at the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, among them its main commander, Denys Prokopenko, “Redis”, and others considered Ukrainian heroes such as Yevheniy Bova and Lev Pashko.

According to Zelensky, of the 215 released, 188 are “heroes” of the Azovstal steelworks and of the Mariupol resistance itself.

“The defenders” Maryana Mamonova, Yana Shumovetska and Anastasiya Chernenka, who were captured while pregnant, were also released, according to the Ukrainian authorities.

Ten other prisoners of various nationalities held by the Russians have been released and 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 saved 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.

According to information provided by the Ukrainian presidential website, the acting head of the Ukrainian Security Service, Vasyl Maliuk; the deputy head of the General Intelligence Directorate, Dmytro Usov, and the Human Rights Commissioner of the Verkhovna Rada, Dmytro Lubinets, met with the 200 freed Ukrainians.

“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,” Vasyl Maliuk said. .

Maliuk noted that during the investigative work in the cases of Viktor Medvedchuk “several subversive networks were neutralizedstate traitors were arrested and a large amount of information was obtained, which is used in counterintelligence activities”.

Also, five more citizens were released in exchange for 55 Russian prisonersaccording 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.”

“At first they offered to return 50 of our people in exchange for one of those who were in the detention center of the Security Service of Ukraine. We talked. We insisted. The number increased from 50 to 200. They are already in Ukraine. I think this is a good result,” Zelensky said in his speech.

In the opinion of the Ukrainian president, “it is not a pity to give Medvedchuk in exchange for true warriors.” “He went through all the investigative steps provided for by law,” he added. “Ukraine received from him everything necessary to establish the truth within the framework of criminal proceedings.”

Zelenski has revealed that the prisoner exchange operation carried out this Wednesday “was prepared for quite some time” and has warned that there would even be more than 200 rescued Ukrainians because “among the liberated Ukrainian women there are those who are preparing to be mothers”.

The pro-Russian politician and oligarch Victor Medvedchuk, arrested on April 12 by the Ukrainian security forces, has been considered for 20 years the main agent of influence of the Kremlin in Ukrainian politics, especially in Donbas.

“I have known (Russian President Vladimir) Putin since 2002, when I was head of the presidential administration. I am proud of our friendly relationship,” he told Efe in an interview in 2019.

Medvedchuk, 67, is for many Ukrainians the quintessential “traitor” because of his close ties to Russia, to which we must add that in recent years he was one of the main enemies of President Volodímir Zelenski.

Medvedchuk is familiarly known as “Putin’s compadre” and the Russian leader was the godfather of one of his daughters, a ceremony that was held in St. Petersburg.

As head of the Ukrainian presidential administration (2002-2004), he coordinated under-the-table cooperation between Moscow and kyiv, interrupted by the Orange Revolution, a setback for the Kremlin that had supported the election of the pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych.

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