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Families of Ukrainian PoWs urge authorities to swap pro-Russian MP and Metropolitan Pavlo for defenders

Saturday, 25 May 2024, 15:30
Families of Ukrainian PoWs urge authorities to swap pro-Russian MP and Metropolitan Pavlo for defenders
The aftermath of the terrorist attack on the Olenivka PoW camp. Photo: Kremlin-aligned Russian news outlets

The Olenivka Community non-governmental organisation has urged President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Defence Intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov, the President's Office and other state agencies to swap traitors and collaborators for prisoners of war who were wounded in the terrorist attack on the Olenivka PoW camp on the night of 28-29 July 2022.

Source: Mariia Alieksieievych, wife of a Ukrainian defender, in a comment to Ukrainska Pravda, a representative of the Olenivka Community

Details: The NGO says about 120 people who were wounded that night – 59 seriously – are still being held in captivity, but there has been no information about most of them for more than a year.


In an appeal, the NGO has requested that Viacheslav Bohuslaiev (formerly the president of Motor Sich, Ukraine’s leading aircraft engine manufacturer), pro-Kremlin lawmaker Nestor Shufrych, Pavlo Lebid, Metropolitan of the Russian-aligned Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, and other pro-Russian priests should be swapped for Ukrainian soldiers.

Mariia Alieksieievych, the wife of an Azov Brigade soldier who was seriously wounded in the terrorist attack on Olenivka, believes that the swap mechanism should be utilised and individuals of value to Russia should be offered for exchange.

Quote from Alieksieievych: "When we raised the issue of possibly swapping Viktor Medvedchuk for Mariupol defenders in 2022, we were told that it was unlikely to be possible and that Russia did not need him. [Viktor Medvedchuk is a Ukrainian businessman and pro-Russian politician to whose daughter Putin is godfather.] But he was given to Russia as part of the swap on 21 September 2022 when 215 of our defenders, who had been held in Russian captivity for four months, came back to Ukraine.


Our family members have been in Russian torture chambers for two years now, and we need to look for different ways to bring them back as soon as possible."

More details: The Olenivka Community has also asked Ukraine's Foreign Ministry to involve the countries that have participated in prisoner swaps in the past – Türkiye, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.


  • On 29 July 2022, Russian media reported an attack on the PoW camp in Olenivka (Donetsk Oblast), where Ukrainian PoWs were held. The propagandists said at least 53 people had been killed.
  • Ukraine’s Defence Intelligence believes that the killing of the Ukrainian PoWs in Olenivka was organised by Wagner Group mercenaries on the personal instructions of their chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin, without the approval of Russia's Defence Ministry.
  • In October, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) stated that it "could not break through by force" to Ukrainian prisoners of war illegally held by Russia, but that it "shares Ukraine's disappointment".
  • On 29 January 2023, the Ukrainian President's Office complained that the ICRC had not sent a delegation to Olenivka for six months.

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