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Some of Azovstal defenders released from Russian captivity

Wednesday, 21 September 2022, 23:18
Some of Azovstal defenders released from Russian captivity

ALONA MAZURENKO – WEDNESDAY, 21 SEPTEMBER 2022 23:18

Ukraine has arranged the release of soldiers who defended the city of Mariupol, including soldiers from the Azov Regiment, from Russian captivity.

Source: Maksym Zhorin, former Commander of the Azov Regiment; photographs by reporter Volodymyr Zolkin; Suspilne

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Quote from Zhorin: "A prisoner exchange took place and some of the Azov fighters have arrived home. We have finally managed to free a number of the Mariupol defenders, including some fighters from the Azov Regiment. The exchange which we have all been waiting for took place tonight [on 21 September]."

Details: The exchange took place in Chernihiv Oblast.

Mykhailo Vershynin, Head of Mariupol’s Patrol Police; Kateryna Polishchuk, a paramedic known as Ptashka (Bird); and Mykhailo Dianov, Senior Sergeant of the 36th Marine Brigade, are among the freed Ukrainians, as suggested by the photographs that have been circulated on social media.

Mariana Mamontova, who was pregnant when she was captured, has also been released.

Militants of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic ("DNR") stated that during the exchange, "service members who were taken prisoners during the retreat in Kharkiv Oblast, as well as captured military pilots of the Russian Armed Forces" have been handed over to the Russian side.

 
PHOTO: VOLODYMYR ZOLKIN
 PHOTO: VOLODYMYR ZOLKIN

Background: 

  • On 29 June, during the largest prisoner swap since 24 February, Ukraine managed to bring back 144 service  personnel, 95 of whom are the defenders of Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. 
  • Ukrainian defenders of Mariupol who had been taken away from Azovstal in May, were detained in a penal colony in Olenivka, Donetsk Oblast. UP sources in the Ukrainian government stated that the number of Ukrainian POWs [prisoners of war] held in Olenivka amounted to 2,449 people.
  • Mariupol defenders were taken to Russian-controlled territory on 16–20 May. Russia claimed that a total of 2,439 fighters left the Azovstal bunkers. Representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross registered the Ukrainian soldiers who left Azovstal as prisoners of war.
  • On 19 June, Russian media reported that the commanders of the Azov Regiment were taken from the Russian-occupied territory of Donetsk Oblast to Russia for conducting "investigative actions". Earlier, Denys Prokopenko, Commander of the Azov Regiment, handed over his duties to Mykyta Nadtochii.

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