Ukraine and Russia have made the largest prisoner exchange since the war started. kyiv has exchanged the pro-Russian politician close to the Kremlin, Viktor Medvechucdetained in Ukraine for months and a personal friend of Putin, for more than 200 Ukrainian prisonersincluding those who considered “heroes” of the Azov Regimentand of other nationalities that were in the hands of the Russians.
The exchange of prisons has taken place in the last hours after of months of negotiations between the two countries, since last April Medvedchuk himself, then detained by the kyiv authorities, requested through a video that he be exchanged for Ukrainian civilians and soldiers who were resisting in Mariupol.
During the exchange carried out this Wednesday, Ukraine has received 215 people, including 124 officers, who were in the hands of the Russians, as reported by the head of the Office of the President, Andriy Yermak, to President Volodymyr Zelensky during a telephone call with the released.
Among the released Ukrainian prisoners are 108 members of the “Azov” Regimentwho resisted in Mariupol, including his commander, Denys Prokopenko, “Redis”, and others considered Ukrainian heroes.
The president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, has affirmed after the exchange of Ukrainian prisoners for the pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuc that “we exchanged a Russian fanatic for 200 warriors… It is a good result”. “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”, he said in his evening speech.
Ten prisoners of various nationalities have been released
Human rights defenders Maryana Mamonova, Yana Shumovetska and Anastasiya Chernenka, who were captured while pregnant, have also been released, according to the Ukrainian authorities.
Ten other prisoners of various nationalities held by the Russians have been released and sent Wednesday to Saudi Arabiawhere they have been accompanied by the head of the State Property Fund, Rustem Umerov.
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, have met with the 200 freed Ukrainians.
“Today we directly exchanged 200 citizens of Ukraine by 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 argued.
Maliuk has pointed out that during the investigative work on Viktor Medvedchuk’s cases “several subversive networks were neutralized, state traitors were arrested and a large amount of information was obtained, which is used in counterintelligence activities.”
In addition, five more citizens were released in exchange for 55 Russian prisoners, according to information from Ukraine.
Almost all the freed are already on the territory of Ukraine, except for the five Azov commanders, who, according to the agreements reached earlier with the president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, are in Turkey “under their personal guarantees of protection”.
Medvedchuk, Kremlin’s agent of influence in Ukrainian politics
The politician and pro-Russian oligarch Victor Medvedchukarrested 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 to many Ukrainians the “traitor” par excellence for its close ties with Russia, to which we must add that in recent years it was one of the main enemies of President Volodímir Zelensky.