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The Independent

Briton free of Russian captivity in Ukraine ‘welcomed by Roman Abramovich on jet’

A British prisoner of struggle held by Russian-backed forces in Ukraine has expressed his disbelief on being welcomed by Roman Abramovich on his luxurious jet.

John Harding is likely one of the 5 British prisoners who had been launched after Saudi Arabia brokered an alternate between Russia and Ukraine.

The British nationals had an emotional return to the UK after spending six months in captivity by Russian separatists.

Mr Harding stated the UK-sanctioned billionaire businessman Abramovich had performed a “key half” of their launch and described him as a “pretty man” and a “legend” in an interview with The Solar.

The previous Chelsea membership proprietor “handled them like royalty” in a drastic change from their earlier lifetime of being overwhelmed often in cramped cells.

“He’s [Abramovich] effectively revered by Ukrainians and massively by us now, too – he’s executed a hell of so much for us and we couldn’t thank him sufficient,” Mr Harding stated.

“He was a sound bloke, a very pretty man. He’s a legend – we completely love him and I’m so grateful for his efforts.”

Mr Abramovich had welcomed the previous prisoners onboard his jet that had earlier flown them from Russia to Saudi Arabia, reported The Solar.

It’s understood Mr Harding was set free on Wednesday together with Shaun Pinner, Aiden Aslin, Dylan Healy and Andrew Hill.

The British nationals touched down at Heathrow Airport within the early hours of Thursday morning and reunited with their households.

Mr Harding stated Mr Pinner informed the businessman throughout the flight that he actually seemed like Roman Abramovich and he replied saying, “That’s as a result of I’m him, sir”.

“He couldn’t imagine it.”

British nationwide John Harding, who was captured by pro-Russian forces whereas allegedly preventing for Ukrainian troops throughout Ukraine-Russia battle, sits inside a defendants’ cage throughout a courtroom listening to in Donetsk, Ukraine on 15 August 2022


“Shaun was chatting away to him about soccer for a very long time and I used to be chatting with his assistant,” Mr Harding continued.

“She stated Roman had performed a key half in getting us again. It’s fairly extraordinary to assume he was concerned — and I wouldn’t have even been in a position to let you know who he was by taking a look at him,” he stated.

He added they had been every handed iPhone13s to speak to their households and loved meals of steak, canapes and tiramisu on the flight from Russia to Riyadh.

John Harding, Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin pictured in aircraft after their launch

(Instagram/cossackgundi by way of REUTERS)

Mr Abramovich introduced he would promote Chelsea on 2 March, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He was sanctioned by the UK authorities on 10 March, with Downing Road claiming to have confirmed his hyperlinks to Vladimir Putin.

Mr Harding, who was serving in Ukraine as a medic with the 2nd Battalion of the Azov Regiment, was captured in Could when Russian forces took over Azovstal Steelworks in the besieged port of Mariupol.

Recounting his horror, he stated he was saved in three jails throughout his seize and stated guards used to punch and kick him and jumped on his physique, breaking most his ribs and leaving him passing blood when urinating.

“I assumed, ‘I simply want they’d f***ing kill me now’.”

“That was the worst second — the way in which they handled us was appalling. In my head I simply informed myself, ‘I’ve been hit more durable by my sister’. If I’d have recognized how we’d be handled earlier than we surrendered, I might’ve stayed and arrange a sniper’s nest and simply tried to take a couple of of them out earlier than I acquired killed,” he stated.

Shaun Pinner pictured together with his household following his launch


In an announcement launched by the international workplace, Mr Pinner is alleged to be “in good spirits” and “is trying ahead to steak and a glass of purple wine” following his launch.

A courtroom within the self-proclaimed Donetsk Folks’s Republic had sentenced Mr Pinner and Mr Aslin to loss of life in July.

In an image launched by the international workplace, the ex-British Military soldier was pictured beaming with pleasure surrounded by household after his return.

“It’s a really emotional time as you’ll be able to count on and we’re unable to at the moment talk about so early in his launch any particulars absolutely. It’s been a harrowing time for Shaun and our household which has now had such a contented decision,” the assertion from the household learn.

“We at the moment are having fun with some household time and would respect the privateness at this second.”

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