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Turkish Ombudsman to visit Ukrainian POWs in Russian captivity

by Kateryna Hodunova and The Kyiv Independent news desk April 5, 2024 5:49 PM 2 min read
Chief Ombudsman of the Republic of Turkey Seref Malkoc speaks at an open meeting of the Council on Internally Displaced Persons at the Kyiv City Military Administration. (Photo credit should read Volodymyr Tarasov / Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
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Turkish Ombudsman Seref Malkoc is planning to visit Ukrainian prisoners of war who have been held in Russia, he said in an interview to Ukrinform on April 5.

Around 28,000 Ukrainians, including civilians and military personnel, have been missing or illegally captured since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion, Ukraine's ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said on Feb. 26. Only 147 civilians have been brought back home since the all-out war started.

Several cases of Ukrainian POWs being held in poor conditions, without quality nutrition, medical care, or hygiene, were reported, according to the human rights organization the Center of Civil Liberties.

Malkoc visited camp in Lviv Oblast where Russian POWs are held to inspect living conditions and the compliance with the Geneva Convention by Ukrainian authorities, and hopes that a similar visit to Russia could "pave the way for the prisoners' exchange."

"If we have an opportunity, we plan to go to Russia to conduct analogous research and publish a report after. But I will repeat that more important than the report's publishing is the prisoners' exchange if we could contribute to it at least partially," Malkoc said.

Previously, President Volodymyr Zelensky passed a list of Ukrainian citizens, including Crimean Tatars, captured by Russia to Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan after their meeting on March 8 in Istanbul.

Zelensky expressed hope that Erdogan would help to return home Ukrainian POWs.

In July 2023, Zelensky brought home five commanding officers who defended the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, and had been kept in Turkey under the personal guarantees of Erdogan after a prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia.

Russian torture of Ukrainian POWs ‘widespread and systematic,’ UN commission says
Russian torture of Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) is “widespread and systematic” and shows a “blatant disregard for human dignity,” a report from a United Nations commission of inquiry on Ukraine said on March 15.
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