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Brahim Saadoun, the Moroccan-born marine in the Ukrainian forces and Kyiv-based raver, has been freed months after being sentenced to death by Russian forces.
After a prisoner exchange deal was struck between Ukraine and Russia, Saadoun was spotted leaving a plane in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia last week with family, friends and lawyers confirming his identity.
The 21-year-old were captured in April after being said to be a mercenary with two British nationals – 28-year-old Aiden Aslin and 48-year-old Shaun Pinner – however, friends and family argued they are long-standing members of the Ukrainian army and not mercenaries.
Saadoun was sentenced to death in June by the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), however last week, the two British men and Saadoun were part of 215 prisoners released from Russia, which Turkey and Saudi Arabia helped to broker.
“When I realised, I couldn’t even hold myself,” Saadoun’s older sister, Iman, told Resident Advisor. “It’s something out of nowhere, it’s the most beautiful moment of my life. I cried.”
Since he was captured members of the Kyiv clubbing community, who dance with him regularly at clubs such as ∄ (K41), launched the campaign ‘Save Brahim’ calling for his protection and freedom.
To help free Saadoun the community had human rights lawyer Anna Koszmenko of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union (UHHRU) help the cause.
According to RA, Koszmenko said: “When you’re pushing the government constantly, it helps them to make more effort”.
She added: “It’s extremely important to take actions, to talk about it, to ask countries to make effort, to enter negotiations. It’s always better than silence.
“It’s extremely important to take actions, to talk about it, to ask countries to make effort, to enter negotiations. It’s always better than silence.”
‘Save Brahim’ has since posted about the news of his release on Instagram “we made it! nothing is impossible” along with an image of him leaving the plane.
Watch the footage below of 10 released prisoners landing in Riyadh.
Becky Buckle is Mixmag’s Video and Editorial Assistant, follow her on Twitter
Written by: Tim Hopkins