Kyiv says 64 Ukrainians, US citizen released in prisoner swap with Russia

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Ukraine said Wednesday that it had secured the release of a US citizen as well as 64 Ukrainian members of the military in its latest prisoner swap with Russian forces.

“Sixty-four soldiers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces who fought in Donetsk and Lugansk -- in particular participated in the defense of the city of Bakhmut -- are going home,” the Ukraine presidency’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak said on social media.

“It was also possible to free a US citizen who helped our people -- Suedi Murekezi.”

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Russia’s state-run TASS news agency has reported that Murekezi was arrested in the eastern Donetsk region of Ukraine in June and charged with attending anti-Russian protests and inciting “ethnic hatred.”

Citing his lawyer, TASS said Murekezi was born in Rwanda and moved to the US with his family in 1994. The lawyer said Murekezi worked in a nightclub in Kherson city and denied his client was a combatant.

Russian forces captured Kherson city soon after they invaded Ukraine in February, but Ukrainian troops retook it this autumn. It has been subjected to frequent bouts of Russian shelling since.

Ukrainian officials say the epicenter of fighting since Kherson’s recapture has been the Donetsk region where Russian forces have for months been trying to capture Bakhmut.

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