A "hospitaller" from Khmelnytsky asks Pope to facilitate a prisoner exchange

12 June, 11:18
A "hospitaller" from Khmelnytsky asks Pope to facilitate a prisoner exchange - фото 1
A paramedic of the Hospitallers Medical Battalion (Khmelnytsky), Tetiana Vasylchenko (call sign "Borysivna"), sent a letter to Pope Francis asking him to facilitate the exchange of prisoners.

This was reported by Suspilne.

In her letter to the Pope, Tetiana Vasylchenko said she petitioned for three paramedics who have been in Russian captivity since leaving Azovstal.

"These are members of my crew, the Hospitallers Battalion. They are civilians, not combatants, who simply provided medical aid to the wounded when they were defending Mariupol," said Tetiana Vasylchenko.

"Borysivna" says she recently sent a letter, which is now at the Vatican Embassy in Kyiv. The paramedic expects that the head of the Catholic Church can speed up the exchange process.

"He is interceding for civilians who have nothing to do with the Armed Forces and who were taken hostage under certain circumstances beyond their control."

In early May of this year, the woman visited Albania with representatives of the Crimean Platform to draw the attention of their parliament to Ukrainians in Russian captivity.

"Albania is a small but friendly country which helps Ukraine with all the means it has. Even if it's just by covering the events. Albania also helps by providing vacations for the victims' and the prisoners' families."

In the volunteer paramedic battalion "Hospitallers," Tetiana Vasylchenko is now in charge of prisoners of war. In 2022, "Borysivna" went through Russian captivity herself.

"From the besieged Mariupol, all the defenders of the last citadel, the Azovstal plant, were taken prisoner. Captured by beasts ignorant of basic human values. They do deem it necessary to follow any international norms. In Olenivka, where we were held, the Russian army committed a brutal crime by destroying the prisoners' barracks with a thermobaric shell."

The last exchange of POWs took place on May 31. 75 people were returned from Russian captivity, 10 of whom were Mariupol defenders. According to the Coordination Center for the Treatment of Prisoners of War, this exchange is the 52nd since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The previous one took place on February 8, 2024.