Despite reports to the contrary from Hungarian government officials, the Ukrainian prisoners of war transferred from Russia to Hungary have not been released, said Ukrainian military intelligence spokesman, Andriy Yusov, on June 20.
"There is information, particularly from relatives of several prisoners, that they were not actually released all this time," Yusov said.
"They were kept under surveillance, with limited contact and communication. Communication with relatives is limited and monitored by third parties."
Yusov said Ukraine currently has a tentative list of prisoners of war who were transferred to Hungary but cannot confirm their status. The responsibility for doing so lies with the International Committee of the Red Cross. He added that Russia and Hungary, being signatories to agreements including the Geneva Convention, should have provided the necessary information.
"The Russian Defense Ministry did not confirm the transfer,” Yusov added.
"We are dealing with a very peculiar case, to say the least. As in many other cases involving international law and the aggressor state. We cannot consider [the transfer] official. There was a list of individuals that Hungary requested from Russia a few months ago — there were 13 names. Now there is a list of approximately 11 individuals that have been handed over. The fact that we are discussing this situation at all is very unfortunate because an event that could have been entirely positive is turning into a kind of dramatic detective story with significant political implications, primarily from Russia's side, which is conducting psychological operations."
Yusov stated that the POWs should be granted communication with everyone involved in the case, and relatives should be able to communicate with all those who have been released, but this has not yet happened.
He said that the Ukrainian side knew about the Russian special operation to transfer Ukrainian prisoners of war to Hungary even before the official announcement. Kyiv made requests to confirm or deny this information, but Budapest denied the operation's occurrence.
"Until the information became public in the media, Budapest denied it, and only after the Russian Orthodox Church unilaterally released the information did representatives of the Hungarian government actually start providing completely different information," he said.
Yusov mentioned that Budapest initially claimed that they were prisoners of war, but later stated that they were "free people who had requested [this operation] themselves. We know that this is not true.”
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