Ukraine says Russia freezes 215 Ukrainian heroes after Mariupol battle

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Sept 21 (Reuters) – Russia has released 215 Ukrainians after a protracted battle for the port city of Mariupol earlier this year, a senior Kyiv official said on Wednesday. Captured, including senior military leaders.

Andriy Yermak, head of Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s presidential office, said the released prisoners included the Azov battalion commander and deputy battalion commander, who took part in most of the fighting.

The move was unexpected as the Russian-backed separatists said last month they would try Azov personnel whom Moscow described as Nazis. Ukraine denies the allegation.

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The released prisoners included Azov commander Lieutenant Colonel Denis Prokopenko and his deputy Sviatoslav Palamar, Yermak said in a statement.

Also free is Serhiy Volynsky, Brigade Commander of the 36th Marine Corps of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

The trio helped lead a weeks-long stubborn resistance in bunkers and tunnels beneath Mariupol’s giant steel mill before they and hundreds of Azov fighters surrendered to Russian-backed forces in May.

In return, Kyiv released 55 Russian prisoners and Viktor Medvechuk, the leader of the banned pro-Russian political party who was facing treason charges, Yermak said.

Public broadcaster Suspline said the exchange took place near the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv.

Earlier in the day, Saudi Arabia said that Russia had released 10 foreign prisoners of war captured in Ukraine under the mediation of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin more

Last month, the head of the Russia-backed separatist government in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region said the captured Azovians would be tried by the end of the more

The Azov Force, formed in 2014 as a militia against Russian-backed separatists, denies fascism, and Ukraine says it has reformed from its radical nationalist origins.

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Reporting by David Ljunggren Editing by Alistair Bell and Rosalba O’Brien

Our Standard: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

David Younggren

Thomson Reuters

Covers Canadian political, economic and general news and breaking news across North America, previously based in London and Moscow, and has received Reuters’ annual Treasury scoop.

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