Dec 14, 2022, 8:34am EST

American crypto investor among 65 freed in Russia-Ukraine prisoner swap


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The News

An American cryptocurrency investor who was arrested by Russian forces in the occupied Ukrainian city of Kherson has been freed as part of a prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine, Ukrainian officials said Wednesday.

According to Andriy Yermak, the chief of staff in Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office, 64 Ukrainian soldiers who had been captured were also returned home. He did not say how many Russian prisoners Ukraine released.

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Yermak posted photos on social media showing Suedi Murekezi, a Rwandan-born American national, holding a Ukrainian flag. Murekezi told The Guardian this month that his interest in crypto inspired his 2020 move to Ukraine, which has liberal bitcoin regulations.

He said he was arrested several months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine while trying to change the oil in his car. He was tortured twice while imprisoned, he said, and shared a cell with two Americans who were captured while fighting in Ukraine.

He was released from prison in the Russian-controlled city of Donetsk in October, but was unable to leave the city because he didn’t have proper ID papers, The Guardian reported.

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The 64 soldiers who were freed were fighting in the Donetsk and Luhansk areas. The bodies of four soldiers who died were also returned.

“These are officers, privates and sergeants, our heroes,” Yermak wrote.