Two British prisoners of war appeared on Russian television to beg UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to arrange a prisoner swap with Vladimir Putin’s top Ukrainian ally, who is being held for treason.
Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin, both UK citizens captured while fighting for the Ukrainian marines, appeared separately to request the exchange with pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk, who was also filmed by Ukrainians making a similar appeal to his friend Putin. Monday.
It was unclear how freely the British detainees were allowed to speak when questioned on the state-run Rossiya 24 television channel.
“If Boris Johnson really cares about British citizens like he says then he would help push [Ukraine President Volodymyr] Zelensky to do the right thing and bring Viktor back to his family and bring us back to our families,” said Aslin, 28, from Nottinghamshire.
He and Pinner were shown a video of Medvedchuk’s TV presenter wife, Oksana Marchenko, pleading for her husband’s safe return.
“I understand the situation,” said Pinner, 48, looking tired and nervous.
“We seek to exchange myself and Aiden Aslin for Mr. Medvedchuk,” he said of the leader of Ukraine’s pro-Russian opposition Platform for Life party, who is accused of fleeing house arrest days after Russia’s invasion.
“I would like to appeal to the [British] government send me back home, I would like to see my wife again,” said Pinner, a British Army veteran from Bedfordshire.
At a similar moment, Ukraine’s security services released their own video of Medvedchuk begging his friend Putin, the godfather of one of his sons, to also arrange an exchange.
Looking directly into the camera, the oligarch asked Putin and Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky to “exchange me for Ukrainian defenders and residents of Mariupol,” the besieged port city where the two Britons were captured.
Medvedchuk, listed by Forbes last year as Ukraine’s 12th-richest person, worth $620 million, had been under house arrest since last May, charged with “high treason.”
In January, the United States also accused Medvedchuk of participating in Russian intelligence efforts to groom friendly Ukrainian politicians to take control of the country with the backing of the occupation forces.
According to the Ukrainian police, he fled from house arrest a few days after Putin invaded Ukraine in late February.
In her appeals, Marchenko, a former TV star who hosted “X-Factor Ukraine,” said she was convinced her husband had been beaten and “persecuted for political reasons.”
Russia has said it will closely monitor Medvedchuk’s fate and last week told Ukraine to “be careful” after kyiv captured him and published photos of him in handcuffs.
The British Foreign Office had no immediate comment on the footage on Monday, but released a statement from Pinner’s family.
“Our family is currently working with the Foreign Ministry together with the family of Aiden Aslin, who is also detained by the Russian military, to ensure that their rights as prisoners of war are respected in accordance with the Geneva Convention,” he said. release.
Meanwhile, an Instagram page created by Aslin’s friends said: “The only good thing about these propaganda videos is that they show our guys reacting to relatively recent events, so it’s a good proof of life.”
with post wires