Russia releases more than 100 women in prisoner's swap


Eastern Europe


Ukrainian exchanged prisonersafter a prisoners exchange between Ukrainian and Russian sides in Ukraine, 17 October 2022. A 108 women, including 96 military personnel and 12 civilians were freed in a large-scale prisoner exchange. Photo EPA, Andrii Yermak

Ukrainian women captured by the Russian forces have been released in a prisoner's swap. Earlier this week, they returned to their families.

Among the freed prisoners were also many who were captured in the Azovstal factory in Mariupol in May. Both military officers, as well as civilians, spent time in detention. According to Andriy Yermak, Zelensky's chief of staff, this is the first time that an exchange took place in which only women were released, as the Guardian reports. The detainees were swapped for 110 Russian citizens.

Images from the exchange show how emotional women are embraced by their family and friends in Zaporizhzhia. They will undergo a medical examination and rehabilitation, Yermak announced.

Violence against the family

The women have endured many hardships during their detention. Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, said that their stories "break the heart and make the blood run cold in your veins."

Several accounts of released women tell about beatings, hours of interrogation and sexual violence during their detention by the Russians. Archbishop Shevchuk calls Ukrainians to wrap these women "with our attention, love and prayer; let's warm them with our national warmth."

Furthermore, Shevchuk expressed his indignation about how Russians use sexual violence as a weapon against Ukrainians. "This war will go down in history as one in which Russia uses violence against the intimate sphere of a person as a weapon against Ukraine", he said. The Catholic Archbishop added that sexuality becomes a tool of contempt and humiliation of the victims. "You can imagine how much this violence against the intimate sphere of a person hurts the Ukrainian family, the dignity of a man and a woman and destroys what the Lord God created for love", he said.



Subscribe for an update, and receive a documentary and e-book for free.

Choose your subscriptions*

You may subscribe to multiple lists.