Briton free of captivity says Roman Abramovich welcomed them onto airplane


ne of 5 Britons launched from captivity via Russian-backed forces has mentioned that former Chelsea Football Club proprietor Roman Abramovich welcomed them onto their flight out of Russia.

In an interview with The Sun, John Harding mentioned Mr Abramovich known himself to Shaun Pinner, whilst Mr Harding spoke to Mr Abramovich’s assistant who mentioned the Russian had performed a “key part” of their unlock.

It is known Mr Harding was once set unfastened on Wednesday along Mr Pinner, Aiden Aslin, Dylan Healy and Andrew Hill, touchdown in Britain within the early hours of Thursday morning.

Mr Abramovich introduced he would promote Chelsea on March 2, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,

The 55-year-old was once then sanctioned via the United Kingdom Government on March 10, with Downing Street claiming to have confirmed his hyperlinks to Vladimir Putin.

“Shaun was chatting away to him about football for a long time and I was speaking to his assistant,” Mr Harding advised The Sun.

“She said Roman had played a key part in getting us back. It’s quite extraordinary to think he was involved — and I wouldn’t have even been able to tell you who he was by looking at him.

“He’s well respected by Ukrainians and massively by us now, too — he’s done a hell of a lot for us and we couldn’t thank him enough.

“He was a sound bloke, a really lovely guy. He’s a legend — we absolutely love him and I’m so grateful for his efforts.”

Mr Pinner’s circle of relatives mentioned he was once “in good spirits” and “is looking forward to steak and a glass of red wine” following his unlock.

A court docket within the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic had sentenced Mr Pinner and Mr Aslin to dying in July.

It’s been a harrowing time for Shaun and our circle of relatives which has now had one of these satisfied solution

They had each lived in Ukraine for various years and have been serving with its common forces when the full-scale conflict broke out.

In a remark launched via the Foreign OfficeMr Pinner’s circle of relatives mentioned: “We would like to thank everybody involved in Shaun’s release, especially all at the Foreign Office, Liz Truss and her team, Boris Johnson and (Ukrainian) President (Volodymyr) Zelensky.

“Shaun would also like to thank the hospitality of the Saudi Government and Prince Mohammed bin Salman al Saud who also assisted in the negotiations for his freedom.

“It’s a very emotional time as you can expect and we are currently unable to discuss so early in his release any details fully. It’s been a harrowing time for Shaun and our family which has now had such a happy resolution. Shaun is in good spirits and still has his sense of humor intact. He is looking forward to steak and a glass of red wine tonight.

“We are now enjoying some family time and would appreciate the privacy at this moment.”

A photograph issued via the Foreign Office looked as if it would display a beaming Mr Pinner together with his family members.

Three of the British nationals freed via pro-Russian forces have been hailed as defenders of “democracy and freedom” via their former commander in Ukraine.

Mr Harding, Mr Pinner and Mr Aslin are believed to have served within the Georgian Legion, a pro-Ukrainian volunteer unit, underneath Mamuka Mamulashvili.

“All those guys did their best to defend democracy and freedom,” Mr Mamulashvili advised the PA information company.

He is among the perfect representatives of his country who got here right here to protect Ukraine and I give him my appreciate

“They were in the Georgian Legion at approximately the same time… and they were perfect guys.

“It was very important for us to get those guys out of captivity because I’ve been in captivity myself and I know what it is.”

Mr Mamulashvili singled out Mr Harding, a veteran of the British Army, for his contribution to the legion, the place he educated more youthful volunteers as an trainer.

“He is one of the best representatives of his nation who came here to defend Ukraine and I give him my respect,” he mentioned.

The non-profit group the Presidium Network, which has supported the circle of relatives of Mr Healy, advised PA that each one 5 had landed safely in the United Kingdom and been reunited with their households.

Dominik Byrne, co-founder of the organisation, mentioned: “We don’t know exactly if they’ve all returned back to their homes yet, but we do know they’re with families at the moment.”

The Foreign Office has no longer commented at the whereabouts of the boys.

Mr Aslin’s unlock was once showed via his native MP Robert Jenrick.

The very first thing I had to do was once to present him a large hug and ensure it was once actual. It nonetheless does not really feel actual now

His mom, Angela Wood, advised the BBC that from time to time she concept she would “never see him alive again”.

“His release happened overnight, I’m still in shock,” she mentioned.

“The first thing I needed to do was to give him a big hug and make sure it was real. It still doesn’t feel real now.”

Ms Wood additionally mentioned the Russian separatists who have been preserving Mr Aslin, over a length she described as “torture” for the circle of relatives, would touch her asking her for cash.

A video emerged past due on Wednesday of 2 males sitting within an airliner, wherein Mr Aslin offered himself and Mr Pinner, including: “We just want to let everyone know that we’re now out of the danger zone and we’re on our way home to our families.”

Mr Pinner interjected, pronouncing “by the skin of our teeth”, as Mr Aslin endured: “We just want everyone to know the good news etc, so thanks to everyone that’s been supporting us and what not, so it’s really muchly appreciated.”

Mr Pinner added: “Thanks to everybody.”

Prime Minister Liz Truss, who was once visiting New York for a UN summit, tweeted: “Hugely welcome news that five British nationals held by Russian-backed proxies in eastern Ukraine are being safely returned, ending months of uncertainty and suffering for them and their families “

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