Ukraine frees Putin best friend in alternate of masses of army group of workers

(Bloomberg) — Ukraine passed over a key best friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin in alternate for masses of prisoners of battle, lots of whom had been captured in a landmark fight, a switch that angered pro-Kremlin propagandists.

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Viktor Medvedchuk was once certainly one of 55 other people passed over to Russia in alternate for 215 Ukrainian prisoners of battle, together with 188 who resisted for months a Russian assault at the Azovstal metal plant within the port town of Mariupol initially of the battle. A number of the team that was once returned to the federal government in Kyiv had been 108 opponents from the Azov Brigade, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky mentioned in a commentary past due Wednesday evening.

“It’s now not a pity to present Medvedchuk in alternate for actual warriors,” Zelensky mentioned. Amongst the ones passed over to Russia had been “individuals who fought in opposition to Ukraine. And people who betrayed Ukraine,” he mentioned.

Medvedchuk, a Ukrainian citizen, was once charged ultimate yr with treason and terrorist financing in what Putin known as a political case. The rich person who led the pro-Russian Opposition Platform birthday celebration, which was once banned after the invasion, escaped area arrest when the battle broke out however was once later captured through Ukrainian forces. He again and again visited Moscow and met with Putin, who supported Medvedchuk within the 2019 parliamentary elections.

Zelenskiy mentioned the 5 Ukrainian commanders had been additionally launched as a part of the deal, at the situation that they spend the remainder of the battle in Turkey underneath the non-public coverage of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. 5 British electorate, two American citizens and 3 different foreigners have additionally been launched as a part of a mediation effort involving Saudi Arabia, he mentioned.

Russian army bloggers and nationalist commentators have reacted furiously to the discharge of the Azov opponents, whom state tv and Kremlin officers attempted for months to painting as “Nazis” in an try to justify Putin’s invasion. Many emphasised that the alternate came about at the identical day that Putin ordered a mobilization in Russia to name up 300,000 reservists to combat in Ukraine.

Police detained about 1,400 other people at protests in 38 Russian towns on Wednesday in opposition to a mobilization order, in keeping with the OVD-Data tracking team. Summons had been passed to one of the crucial detained males.

The prisoner switch with Ukraine is “extremely silly,” Igor Girkin, a former Russian intelligence colonel who turned into a commander of pro-Moscow separatists in japanese Ukraine in 2014, instructed his Telegram channel with greater than 600,000 subscribers. The discharge of the commanders of “Azov” was once equated with the “betrayal” of officers who ridiculed the decision to combat for Russia.

Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of Russia’s decrease area of parliament, mentioned in June that the captured Azov opponents had been other people with “blood on their palms” who would face trial.

Ukrainians believe Azovstal’s defenders heroes for his or her resistance to overwhelming odds prior to they had been taken prisoner through Russia as a part of a give up settlement in Would possibly at hand over the large metal plant.

Zelensky proposed to Medvedchuk as a part of a possible alternate in April. Then Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov mentioned that “Medvedchuk isn’t a citizen of Russia. It has not anything to do with the particular operation.”

(Updates with anti-war protests in Russia within the 7th paragraph)

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