Turkish media reveal new details of Medvedchuk’s swap for Azovstal commanders

3 January, 04:25 PM
Last year, in September, Viktor Medvedchuk was exchanged for Ukrainian defenders (Photo:ОП)

Last year, in September, Viktor Medvedchuk was exchanged for Ukrainian defenders (Photo:ОП)

The swap of Viktor Medvedchuk, a Ukrainian MP and member of the outlawed Opposition Platform — For Life Party, for the Ukrainian military, including the so called Azovstal commanders, in Ankara, Turkey, was initiated by the Russian side, the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported on Jan. 3.

According to the newspaper, the negotiations took place in Ankara under the leadership of the National Intelligence Organization of Turkey.

Two planes arrived at Ankara Airport in late September — one from Russia and the other from Ukraine. Five commanders who were defending Mariupol-based Azovstal steel mill were on board the first plane, while Medvedchuk was on board the second one.

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After landing, under the supervision of Turkish intelligence officers, Ukrainian officials entered the Russian plane, and Russian officials entered the Ukrainian aircraft. They checked the personal data and health condition of Ukrainian military personnel and the pro-Russian politician.

Hurriyet reported the swap itself had taken place without any problems.

The commanders of the Mariupol garrison remained in Turkey as Russia insisted.

At the same time, the article does not mention what has happened to Medvedchuk after the swap.

The biggest prisoner swap of the war so far took place on Sept. 21 when 215 people were freed from Russian captivity. Of them, 108 were defenders of Azovstal, including five commanders.

The Azovstal commanders were exchanged for 55 Russian military personnel, while Ukraine handed over Medvedchuk, a former oligarch, pro-Russian politician and a personal friend of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. Medvedchuk was charged with high treason in May 2021.

The Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said the exchange had become severe trauma for Medvedchuk.

“As a political factor, as an oligarch, as a businessman, as an agent of influence, he is absolutely declassed,” the intelligence said.

The Kremlin claimed they know nothing about Medvedchuk’s whereabouts.

Later Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that Medvedchuk had gone to Russia as Russian dictator Vladimir Putin insisted on.

US newspaper The Washington Post reported that the prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine in late September was approved by Putin over the objections of his top security service, the FSB, which had concerns about a public backlash in Russia.

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