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Foreigners sentenced to death among those freed in Saudi-brokered POW swap

by The Kyiv Independent news desk September 22, 2022 1:13 AM 1 min read
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Russia on Sept. 21 released 10 prisoners of war from five countries, some of whom had been sentenced to death by Russian proxies in Ukraine's east, in a prisoner exchange brokered by Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi foreign ministry said on Twitter that the release was mediated by Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi Crown Prince.

Three of the prisoners exchanged include Britons Sean Pinner and Aiden Aslin, as well as Moroccan citizen Saadoun Brahim, previously sentenced to death in a sham trial in Russian-occupied Donetsk.

Russia also released two U.S. citizens, Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Huynh, 27, in the exchange, a family representative told Reuters on Sept. 21. The two were both captured in June while fighting in eastern Ukraine alongside other foreign fighters who had come to fight in support of Ukraine amid Russia's full-scale invasion, Reuters reported.

On the same day, Ukraine returned 215 Ukrainian prisoners of war, including several defenders of Azovstal, a steel plant that was the Ukrainian military's last stronghold in Mariupol, Donetsk Oblast, before the city became entirely occupied by Russia.

Mariupol defenders including Denys Prokopenko, the head of the Azov regiment at then besieged Azovstal steel plant, deputy commander Svyatoslav Palamar, and marine commander Serhiy Volynsky, were among the 215 people released from the Russian captivity in a massive prisoner exchange on Sept. 21.

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