A “two-for-two” prisoner exchange took place in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine, which saw the release of two Ukrainian border guards from Russian imprisonment.
The swap was held in a neutral zone on the border between the two countries, near the Hoptivka checkpoint.
Russian security forces captured the two border guards – Bohdan Martson and Ihor Dzyubak – in October 2017, near the state border in Sumy region of Ukraine.
In return for Martson and Dzyubak, Ukraine released two servicemen from the Border Service of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), Vladimir Kuznetsov and Askar Kulub. They were detained in the Kherson region of Ukraine in summer 2017.
Surveillance cameras at the Hoptivka checkpoint broadcasted the exchange process.
On February 28, President Petro Poroshenko announced that, by the end of the week, two Ukrainian prisoners would return home.
Then, on March 1, First Vice Speaker of the Ukrainian parliament Iryna Herashchenko announced that the release of five Ukrainians from imprisonment in occupied Donbas had fallen through. She then added that Ukraine was expecting the release of two Ukrainian citizens detained in Russian prisons on March 2.
Neither Herashchenko nor Poroshenko revealed the names of the two prisoners in the lead up to the exchange. However, a source told Hromadske that border guards Ihor Dzyubak and Bohdan Martson would be released as part of Poroshenko’s announcement of the prisoner swap with Russia.
Following the exchange, Poroshenko wrote on Facebook: “As I promised at the press conference, two Ukrainians are free from prison....Welcome home boys!”
/By Sofia Fedeczko