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Pope calls for exchange of all prisoners between Russia and Ukraine in Easter sermon

by The Kyiv Independent news desk March 31, 2024 7:52 PM 1 min read
Pope Francis delivers his Sunday Angelus blessing overlooking St. Peter's Square on July 30, 2023, in Vatican City, Vatican. (Vatican Media via Vatican Pool/Getty Images)
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Pope Francis called for Russia and Ukraine to exchange all prisoners of war during an Easter sermon on March 31, Vatican News reported.  

"Calling for respect for the principles of international law, I express desire for a general exchange of all prisoners between Russia and Ukraine: all for all!" Pope Francis said, according to Vatican News.

Ukrainian officials said in December that Russia were holding at least 3,500 Ukrainian POWs, although the number was thought to be higher. Prisoner swaps have since taken place.

In February, Ukraine and Russia each exchanged 100 POWs, according to President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russia's Defense Ministry.  

A recent U.N. report found that Russian torture of Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) is “widespread and systematic” and shows a “blatant disregard for human dignity."

An investigation by the Kyiv Independent in December revealed the inhumane conditions of detention, hunger, and torture found at one Russian camp in particular – the Olenivka prison, located in Russian-occupied Donetsk Oblast, recording dozens of interviews with the servicemen and civilians who witnessed gross violations of international law.

Ukraine's Catholic, Protestant, and Greek Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter Sunday according to the Gregorian calendar, and which falls on March 31 this year.

Ukraine's Orthodox Christians follow the Julian calendar, meaning Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox, typically between April 4th and May 8th. This year, Orthodox Easter will fall on May 5.

Faces of Torture
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