Ukraine returned 215 people, including 124 officers, from Russian captivity. Head of the Office of the President Andriy Yermak reported this to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during an online call with the released defenders.
In particular, 108 warriors of the "Azov" regiment and other formations of the National Guard of Ukraine, as well as servicemen of the Ground and Naval Forces, the territorial defense of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the State Border Guard Service, the National Police, employees of the Security Service, the State Special Transport Service and the State Customs Service were released.
"Among those released are commander of "Azov", Hero of Ukraine Denys Prokopenko ("Redis"), Serhiy Volynskyi ("Volyna"), acting commander of the 36th separate brigade of marines, Svyatoslav Palamar ("Azov"), Oleg Khomenko ("Azov"), Denys Shleha from the National Guard of Ukraine, Hero of Ukraine Yevheniy Bova, commander of the 1st separate marine battalion. Kateryna Polishchuk ("Ptashka") also returns," Andriy Yermak reported.
Defenders Maryana Mamonova, Yana Shumovetska and Anastasiya Chernenka who were captured while pregnant were also released.
"This is the most powerful result in the release of prisoners during the entire period of the full-scale invasion," stated the Head of the President's Office.
Acting Head of the Security Service of Ukraine Vasyl Maliuk, Deputy Head of the Main Directorate of Intelligence Dmytro Usov and Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights Dmytro Lubinets met 200 released Ukrainians.
"Today we directly exchanged 200 citizens of Ukraine for Mr. Medvedchuk. I would like to point out that Medvedchuk is not just Putin's close friend, but a well-documented state traitor. His guilt is fully recorded in the relevant materials," said Vasyl Maliuk.
He noted that during the work on Viktor Medvedchuk's cases, a number of subversive networks were neutralized, state traitors were detained and a large amount of information was obtained, which is used in counterintelligence activities.
In addition, 5 more citizens were released in exchange for 55 Russian prisoners.
Almost all of the released are already on the territory of Ukraine, except for the five Azov commanders, who, according to the agreements reached earlier with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, are in Türkiye under his personal guarantees of protection. Head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine Kyrylo Budanov and Minister of Internal Affairs Denys Monastyrskyi are currently with five "Azov" warriors.
"Congratulations, our men, our heroes, on your return. Glad to see everyone since we've been speaking only by phone earlier. We are extremely proud of what you have done for our country. We are proud of each of you," Volodymyr Zelenskyy said during a video call with the released defenders of Azovstal.
The Head of State noted that they are now safe in Türkiye, and the next step is their return to their homeland.
"Glory to Ukraine! Mr. President, everything is fine with us, the health conditions are acceptable. I’m thankful to you and the entire team," said Denys Prokopenko, commander of the "Azov" regiment.
The fighters expressed gratitude to the team and the Ukrainian people on behalf of all defenders of Azovstal.
Kyrylo Budanov reported to the Head of State about the completion of another stage of the exchange of prisoners of war and assured that the work on the release of all Ukrainian citizens continues.
In addition, at the request of international partners, Ukraine achieved the release of ten foreigners - defenders of Ukraine, citizens of five partner states. The released foreign defenders were sent to Saudi Arabia on September 21. Head of the State Property Fund Rustem Umerov is with them.
"This is a tremendous success and I am grateful to everyone involved in this operation - everyone who has done this titanic work. I sincerely congratulate our heroes on their return home. We will provide them with all the necessary aid - medical, social and any other. We continue to work on the release of all our citizens who are being held captive by the occupiers," Andriy Yermak said.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy noted that the preparation of this release operation was long and hard. He expressed gratitude to the President of Türkiye, as well as to all those who dealt with this issue from the Ukrainian side, in particular to Head of the Office of the President Andriy Yermak, Head of the Main Intelligence Directorate Kyrylo Budanov, Head of the Security Service of Ukraine Vasyl Maliuk, Head of the State Property Fund Rustem Umerov, Minister of Internal Affairs Denys Monastyrskyi, as well as Dmytro Usov and Dmytro Lubinets.
"Thank you guys. I believe that this is truly a great victory for our state, for our entire society. And most importantly – for the families of our defenders, who will be able to see their loved ones in safety," Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
The President noted that, according to the information available to him, many of the prisoners were sentenced to death, so the release saved their lives.
The Head of State also emphasized that Ukraine remembers all its citizens and will try to save every Ukrainian.
"We will do everything to save everyone who is in Russian captivity. We value every life! This is what distinguishes us from the enemy," the President noted.