Russia wants to try Azovstal prisoners before exchange

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister announced that Russia would try prisoners from the Azovstal factory before considering an exchange option with Ukraine.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko said today Moscow will consider a prisoner exchange with Kyiv, but will do so only after Ukrainian soldiers at the Azovstal Steel Plant have been “adequately sentenced”.

“Before they are brought to court, any discussion of a prisoner swap is premature,” Rudenko said.

Ukrainian soldiers at the Azovstal factory surrender to Russian forces on May 20.  Photo: Russian Armed Forces.

Ukrainian soldiers at the Azovstal factory surrender to Russian forces on May 20. Picture:Russian Defense Forces.

The Russian military announced last week that all 2,439 soldiers of the Azov Battalion at the Azovstal Steel Plant in the city of Mariupol surrendered, while Kyiv has not confirmed the number. Most of the Ukrainian soldiers were taken to a detention center in the town of Yelenovka, on the outskirts of Donetsk city, while the wounded were taken to a hospital in an area controlled by the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) Armed Forces. entitlement control.

Moscow considers the Azov battalion a “neo-fascist organization”. Russia’s Supreme Court is expected to consider a proposal to designate the Azov battalion as a “terrorist organization” on May 26, a move that could complicate negotiations over the exchange of those prisoners.

Originally a nationalist militia, the Azov Battalion was incorporated into the Ukrainian National Guard and became the centerpiece of efforts to defend Mariupol, where some of the country’s fiercest fighting took place.

Denis Pushilin, leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), said the Ukrainian soldiers at the Azovstal factory should be tried by an “international court” attended by representatives of western countries.

A court in Kyiv earlier this week sentenced to life in prison Vadim Shishimarin, a 21-year-old Russian soldier accused of killing a civilian in February.

The victim’s wife said she would not object if the Ukrainian government traded Shishimarin for prisoners from the Azovstal factory. The Prosecutor General of Ukraine Irina Venediktova also did not exclude the possibility of exchanging Shishimarin for her country’s prisoners.

Hong Hanh (Corresponding AFP)