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The friend released from Russian captivity: –

– It’s not often that I have tears in my eyes, but I have to say that it was very joyful, says Erik Helgesplass to Dagbladet.

He is friends with British Shaun Pinner, who was released from Russian captivity on Wednesday.

The Brit was sentenced to death by the court in separatist-controlled Donetsk, accused of being a foreign mercenary – something Helgesplass has previously denied.

Pinner has lived in Ukraine, and is said to have worked as a marine in the Ukrainian armed forces. The two became known in 2020, when the Norwegian, who has also lived in Ukraine, transported first aid equipment, food and materials to soldiers who were holding out against separatists on the outskirts of Mariupol.

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Released in a large prisoner exchange

Helgesplass first learned of the release from a friend.

– Then it didn’t take many seconds before it was everywhere in the international media, he says.

At the time, a Saudi Arabian official told Reuters that Russia had released ten prisoners of war after mediation under the auspices of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The ten released were said to be from the United States, Great Britain, Sweden, Croatia and Morocco, and should have landed in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.

The releases were part of what will be the largest prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia since February, with a total of 270 prisoners of war said to have been released.

SUPPLIES: Helgesplass met Pinner when he drove down with first aid equipment and food for soldiers who have stood their ground against pro-Russian separatists. Photo: Private
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The Norwegian describes the time after his friend, together with British Aiden Aslin and Moroccan Brahim Saadum, was sentenced to death as a vacuum.

Very little information came from Donbas.

Therefore, the news of his release came as a surprise to him.

– Did you dare to hope that it would happen?

– Now I have been working with emergency aid quite actively for half a year, and got to know how unpredictable Russians can be, but it would be wrong to say that I dared to hope that he would become a free man, he says.

DEMONSTRATION. Over 400 people are said to have been arrested in demonstrations in Russia on Wednesday, following the news that Putin is mobilizing 300,000 reservists in Ukraine.

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– On the way home

Helgesplass has not yet spoken to his friend after his release.

– I think he has deserved some peace around himself and his people. When the time is right, we will probably meet, he says.

He says that he is in Slovakia, near the border with Ukraine, to deliver emergency aid. On Wednesday night, he celebrated his release with a group of friends.

– There are five of us in five countries, who went out and ate separately. It became a Facetime affair, he says.

British Prime Minister Liz Truss

on Wednesday evening that a total of five British citizens have been released from Russian captivity. She thanked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj for his efforts, and Saudi Arabia for their contribution.

A few hours later, a video greeting was published on Instagram, in which Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin thank everyone who worked to get them out of captivity.

– We are now out of the danger zone and on our way home to our families, Aslin says in the video.


The article is in Norwegian

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