UK summons Russian ambassador over the death of Paul Urey, 45, who was detained by Russia-backed separatists in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) in eastern Ukraine.
The United Kingdom has summoned Russian Ambassador Andrei Kelin to express “deep concern” over reports of the death of a British aid worker detained by Russia-backed separatists in Ukraine.
Earlier on Friday, an official in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) announced the death of Paul Urey, 45. A UK charity involved with his case confirmed that Urey’s family had been notified of his death by British officials.
“I am shocked to hear reports of the death of British aid worker Paul Urey while in the custody of a Russian proxy in Ukraine. Russia must bear the full responsibility for this,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said.
“Those responsible will be held to account.”
Daria Morozova is the human rights ombudswoman of the Moscow-backed separatist leadership. Donetsk Region of eastern Ukraine, said a British “mercenary,” whom she named as Urey, died in captivity on Sunday. She claimed he died from stress and chronic illnesses.
Urey, along with Dylan Healy, a British man, was taken into custody at a checkpoint in April near Zaporizhzhia. This is approximately 470 km (290 miles) southeast Kyiv. Both men were operating in the warzone on their own, helping to evacuate civilians.
Dominik Byrne co-founded the UK charity Presidium Network. He said that Urey had diabetes, and required regular insulin.
“It’s obvious that his welfare was not looked after,” Byrne said. “The Russian authorities and the Donetsk People’s Republic knew he had need of insulin but all the way through this, the Red Cross has been denied welfare access to him and has never been able to verify his actual conditions in prison.”
Byrne said “multiple agencies” including the British government and the Red Cross had tried in vain to secure Urey’s release.
“We are formally calling for his captors to release his body and help us repatriate it back to the UK for his family,” he said. “We really feel that is of ultimate importance and the least they can do at this stage.”
‘Not a fighter’
There was no evidence Urey had a military background and that there was “no way” he was anywhere near “mercenary activities”, as DPR officials allege, Byrne told the Reuters news agency.
“They are really using these personnel as political pawns in this conflict – which is disgraceful,” Byrne said of the Russian-backed separatists.
A group that supports the Kyiv government claimed on Friday that Urey is an aid worker.
“We are saddened by the news of Mr Urey’s death,” the International Legion for the Defence of Ukraine said as quoted by the Interfax-Ukraine news agency.
“He did not fight in Ukraine. He was an employee of a humanitarian organisation,” the group added.
Two more UK citizens a Moroccan manThe DPR sentenced the captured mercenaries to death for their mercenary activities.
Two Americans are being held in DPR, but have not been charged. Their families claim that the separatists want to arrange a prisoner swap and force the United States into official communication with the Russian-backed rebels. This could be considered de facto recognition.