Russia released 215 Ukrainian POWs, captured during the Battle of Mariupol. The men released include the commanders of the Azov battalion
KIEV – Everyone home. In the most dramatic hour, in the general mobilization of the 300 thousand Russians, in the flight from Moscow of the enlisted, Vladimir Putin surprisingly opens a window. And in the darkest hour, after seven months of “niet” on everything, he makes the first negotiation concession on prisoners of war: hundreds of men of the Azov Battalion are released, the unpresentable Nazis who had to be tried for war crimes, together to a dozen foreign fighters sent for a safe death sentence. The sensational news about Azov is given at midnight Suspline, the official Ukrainian radio. The head of the presidency, Andrii Yermak, speaks of a agreement reached between Moscow and Kiev to release 215 «Pow« (prisoners of war) Ukrainians in exchange for 55 Russians and especially of the pro-Russian oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk: the most faithful friend of Putin, the publisher that Zelensky had arrested on charges of intelligence with the enemy and pro-Kremlin propaganda on his TV.
A year before the invasion, February 2021, an anti-Medvedchuk law passed by the Parliament of Kiev had infuriated the leader of the Kremlin, prompting him to prepare for war and to deploy the first three thousand soldiers on the Ukrainian border. We laugh at the Nazis. And we give you back the horrible Medvedchuk. The exchange was in the air and on Saturday it was the right hand of the Ukrainian president, Podolyak, who confirmed that the only steps in the negotiation they were made just for the “pow”. But no one expected them to be practically at the top of the drop-off list all Azov fighters, those who had surrendered in May after a long resistance in the tunnels of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. The photos of the delivery ceremony appear on social media, in an unspecified place around Chernihiv: Colonel Denys “Redis” Prokopenko and Deputy Svyatoslav “Kalyna” Palamar are seen in uniform in a room. Then the other names gradually come to be known, one of them: “the heroic” (this is how Ukrainian radio defines him) marine Sergiy Volynskythe famous “Volyna” commander of the 36th Marine Brigade who led the resistance inside Azovstal.
There is as well Dmytro Kozatsky, the soldier who, before being captured, posted photos of the siege. It is likely that there are also those released some of the 131 women held captive, two of them pregnant: one is in the ninth month. Last September 11, the Russians promised that the trial of Azov’s soldiers would begin: the postponement, it is now evident, was due to the ongoing negotiations. As a sign of relaxation, Moscow had also released the video of the hugely popular soldier Kateryna Polishchuk, 21, who became famous as “the little bird” (Ptashka) because in the days of the siege she was filmed singing nationalistic songs. And in Kiev she had called for a certain haste, recalling the mysterious explosion of July 29 in Donetsk, inside the Olenivka prison, where at least 53 Azovians had died.
What this sudden turn means is too early to tell. In the afternoon – with equal surprise and thanks to mediation of the “unpresentable” Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman, the famous MBS -, the pro-Russian separatists had also freed ten mercenaries (five English, two Americans, one Swedish, one Moroccan and one Croatian) captured last spring. Among them, already arrived in Riyadh, are Aiden Aslin, Shahun Pinner and Brahim Saadoun, the three foreign fighters who had been caged and sentenced to death in a show trial in June. “We will never free them,” had been the promise. But wars change winds, and beliefs change too.
September 22, 2022 (change September 22, 2022 | 01:36)
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