22:19 / 21.09.2022.

Author: Katja Miličić

Croatian fighter held by Russia freed in prisoner swap

Vjekoslav Prebeg

Vjekoslav Prebeg

Foto: Iz videomaterijala / Reuters

A Croatian citizen who had been held by Russian forces in Ukraine has been released as part of a prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine that was brokered by Saudi Arabia.

Vjekoslav Prebeg was among 10 foreign nationals fighting for the Ukranian side who have been released. The group also includes five Britons, two Americans, one Marrocan, and one Swede.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković thanked Ukraine and Saudi Arabia in a tweet on Thurday, saying Prebeg would return home on Thrusday.

“I just spoke to Vjekoslav Prebek, who has been freed from Russian captivity,” Plenković tweeted from New York, where he is taking part in the annual meeting of UN General Assembly.

“We are looking forward to his return to Croatia. I would like to thank the authorities in Ukraine and Saudi Arabia on their cooperation and assistance, as well as Croatia’s diplomats for their efforts,” the Plenković said.

The deal was reportedly brokered personally by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, according to the Saudi news agency SPA.

Croatia’s Foreign Ministry has confirmed the report of the prisoners’ release, as have American and British authorities.

Prebeg was taken into custody in May near Mariupol. He was accused of being a Ukrainian mercenary and sentenced to death. In August, he pleaded not guilty before a court in Donetsk, where he was on trial with one Swede and three Britons.

Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud maintains close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, including ones within OPEC, despite strong pressure from Washington, a Saudi ally, to isolate Russia.

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