Families of Ukrainian prisoners-of-war urge authorities to swap pro-Russian MP and Metropolitan Pavlo for defenders

The aftermath of a terrorist attack on Olenivka PoW camp. Photo: Kremlin-aligned Russian news outlets
The aftermath of a terrorist attack on Olenivka PoW camp. Photo: Kremlin-aligned Russian news outlets
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The Olenivka Community non-governmental organisation has urged President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Kyrylo Budanov, Chief of Defence Intelligence of Ukraine (DIU), the Ukrainian President's Office and other state bodies to swap traitors and collaborators for prisoners of war (PoWs) wounded in the terrorist attack in Olenivka PoW camp on the night of 28-29 July 2022.

Source: Mariia Alieksieievych, wife of a Ukrainian defender, in a comment to Ukrainska Pravda; address of the Olenivka Community

Details: The organisation indicates that about 120 people wounded that night, including 59 severely, are still being held in captivity, but there has been no information about most of them for more than a year.

The address asks to swap Viacheslav Bohuslaiev, the former president of Motor Sich, Ukraine’s leading aircraft engine manufacturer, pro-Kremlin lawmaker Nestor Shufrych, Pavlo Lebid, Head of Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate, and other pro-Russian priests for Ukrainian soldiers.

Mariia, the wife of an Azov Brigade soldier who was severely wounded in the terrorist attack in Olenivka, believes that such a swap mechanism should be used and that individuals valuable to Russia should be exchanged.

Quote from Alieksieievych: "When we raised the issue of a possible swap of Viktor Medvedchuk for the defenders of Mariupol in 2022, we were told that it was rather impossible and that Russia did not need him. [Viktor Medvedchuk is a Ukrainian businessman and pro-Russian politician to whose daughter Putin is godfather]. However, he was given to Russia as part of the swap on 21 September 2022, when 215 of our defenders, who had been held in Russian captivity for four months, came back to Ukraine.

Our relatives have been in Russian torture chambers for two years now, and we need to look for different ways to bring them back as soon as possible."

More details: The community also asks Ukraine's Foreign Ministry to involve the countries that have participated in such exchanges – Türkiye, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.


  • On 29 July 2022, Russian media reported an attack on the PoW camp in Olenivka (Donetsk Oblast), where Ukrainian PoWs were held. Propagandists said at least 53 people had been killed.

  • DIU believes that the killing of Ukrainian PoWs in Olenivka was organised by mercenaries of the Wagner Private Military Company on the personal instructions of their chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin, without the approval of Russia's Defence Ministry.

  • In October, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) stated that it could not "break through by force" to Ukrainian prisoners of war illegally held by Russia but "shares Ukraine's disappointment".

  • On 29 January 2023, the Ukrainian President's Office complained that the ICRC had not sent a delegation to Olenivka for 6 months.

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