Many of the Ukrainians exchanged in the largest prisoner swap with Russia since the beginning of the invasion show signs of violent torture, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence said Thursday.

On Wednesday Ukraine announced the exchange of a record-high 215 imprisoned soldiers with Russia, including fighters who led the defence of Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks that became an icon of Ukrainian resistance.

“Many of them have been brutally tortured,” Kyrylo Budanov said during a press conference, without providing further details on signs of torture.

Some of the detainees “are in a more or less normal physical condition, except for chronic malnutrition due to bad conditions of detention”, Budanov said.


The prisoners were detained in Ukrainian territories occupied by Russian troops, as well as in Russia itself, according to the high-ranking official.

Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky during the same press conference said “absolutely all” of the Ukrainian prisoners swapped “need psychological rehabilitation”.

This swap is the biggest exchange between the warring sides since the start of Russia’s invasion in February.

In return, Russia received 55 servicemen and Viktor Medvedchuk, a former Ukrainian lawmaker and ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin accused of high treason.

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