Russia’s Southern District Military Court announced on May 24, that five foreign fighters will be tried as terrorists for joining the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) to fight against Russian forces. The trial is set to begin on May 31 in absentia – without the accused being present.

Russia’s state-owned news agency RIA Novosti, citing the court’s press service, says the five have been “accused of fighting alongside Ukrainian forces – including the Azov regiment, which battled Russian forces during the siege of the southern port city of Mariupol.” Moscow designated the Azov Regiment a terrorist organization on Aug. 2, 2022.

Three of the men have been charged with “forcible seizure or forcible retention of power” and “mercenary participation in an armed conflict or hostilities.” Two others have been charged with “participating as a mercenary in armed conflict or hostilities” and “aiding and abetting in the recruitment of mercenaries for use in armed conflict.”

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According to a Guardian report: “The Britons have been identified as John Harding, Andrew Hill, and Dylan Healy. The Swedish national has been named as Mathias Gustafsson and the Croatian as Vjekoslav Prebeg.”

RadioFreeEurope says: “It was confirmed at the time that another Briton, Paul Ury, who was captured along with Healy and Hill, died in the [Donetsk] separatists’ custody.”

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The UK government says the three British citizens were released as part of a prisoner exchange in September 2022. Other reports say the other two men had also been released in a 2022 prisoner swap.

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