Andriy Yermak, head of the president's office

Ukraine Says 32 Soldiers Freed, Body Of Israeli Returned In Prisoner Swap


Ukraine says 32 of its soldiers have been freed and the body of an Israeli citizen who fought for Ukraine has been returned in a prisoner swap with Russia.

“Another exchange of prisoners took place today. We managed to free 32 of our soldiers and get back the body of Israeli citizen Dmytro Fialka,” Andriy Yermak, head of the president’s office, said on October 11 on social media.

He said all of the soldiers freed had been “in places where fierce fighting was going on,” and many of the men had been considered missing.

The soldiers were undergoing medical examinations and were to be reunited with their relatives, he said.

He did not provide details about the Russian prisoners who were involved in the exchange.

Failka, an Israeli who Yermak said voluntarily went to the front lines to fight for Ukraine, lived in Ukraine for the last two years after meeting “his love” — a Ukrainian woman with whom he had children. He said he had worked as a children’s football coach in Lviv before volunteering for military service.

Also among those released was a private who served with his older brother, a husband and father of two girls. The younger brother was captured the same day he witnessed his brother’s death, Yermak said, referring to “unspeakable pain and sadness.”

Ukraine said earlier on October 11 that it had negotiated the return of dozens of Ukrainian soldiers’ remains.

“Another transfer took place: 62 fallen heroes were returned home,” the Ukrainian ministry responsible for the reintegration of occupied territories said in a statement.

“The negotiations were difficult,” the ministry said, adding that the returned remains included soldiers who had been held in a Russian-controlled prison in Olenivka in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

Russia and Ukraine in July accused each other of carrying out deadly bombardments on the prison.

Kyiv denied targeting civilian infrastructure or prisoners of war. Russia said the Ukrainian prisoners held at the facility included members of the Azov Battalion who had defended the Azovstal steelworks as the last holdouts in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.

Russian did not comment on the ministry’s statement on the return of the remains.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and RFE/RL’s Russian Service

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