Viktor Medvedchuk was released in a prisoner exchange with Ukraine
Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) head Denis Pushilin has confirmed that Kiev has released Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Medvedchuk as part of a large prisoner swap with Russia.
The Ukrainian authorities charged Medvedchuk with treason last year and banned his party, Opposition Platform - For Life, after Russia launched its military operation in the neighboring country in February.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Pushilin praised Medvedchuk for his role in mediating past prisoner exchanges between Ukraine and the DPR. "With Medvdchuk's participation, more than a thousand of your lads were freed. They wouldn't have survived in the conditions [of captivity in Ukraine]," he said.
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky revealed on Thursday that 215 Ukrainian soldiers were released, among them more than 100 members of the Azov Battalion, whose ranks include fighters with openly nationalist and neo-Nazi views.
READ MORE: Russia reveals number of soldiers swapped with Kiev
"They are war criminals. We understand it perfectly. But our goal was to have our lads returned as soon as possible," Pushilin said.
The Russian Defense Ministry reported earlier that 55 Russian and Donbass soldiers were freed as part of the swap.