Azovstal defenders have returned home: Hero of Ukraine Denis Prokopenko, commander of the Azov Special Forces detachment of the National Guard, his deputy Svyatoslav Palamar, acting commander of the 36th Marine Brigade Serhiy Volynsky, senior Azov officer Oleg Khomenko and commander of the 12th National Guard Brigade Denys Shleha.

The soldiers were in Turkey after their release from Russian captivity. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met the defenders at the Istanbul airport and welcomed them back. He spoke with the Azovstal defenders and thanked them for their courage and resilience.

“Congratulations to you! You are our heroes. I am delighted to see you back home. Glory to Ukraine!” the President said.

What is known about Azovstal prisoners

From May 16 to 20, 2022, following the order of the leadership, soldiers and civilians left the plant’s territory, which was the last stronghold of Ukrainian forces in Mariupol. A total of 2,439 people left the plant, but more than 1,900 of them are still in captivity.

At the time, the Ukrainian authorities were careful to use the term “evacuation,” while Russia said it was a surrender. People were transported to Russian-controlled territories and most of them are still there.

On July 28, 2022, at about 23:30, an explosion occurred in Volnovakha Correctional Colony No. 120, Olenivka, Donetsk region. Terrible screams of people and pleas for help were heard. These people were the defenders of Mariupol, who had been defending themselves for more than 80 days in a complete encirclement and had left the Azovstal plant on the orders of Ukraine’s top military and political leadership.

See also

One year in captivity: Kyiv held a rally to commemorate the release of defenders from Azovstal.