June 23, 2022 8.30 am

Protest calls for release of British prisoners held by Russia

They were sentenced to death in a proxy court

The family of a captured British man who was sentenced to death by pro-Russian rebels in an internationally unrecognised court, due to fighting in the Ukrainian resistance effort, will take part in a protest this weekend calling for his release.

Aiden Aslin, 28, has been held captive by Russian-affiliated troops since April this year, after he was part of a surrendering group of Ukrainian soldiers defending the now besieged port city of Mariupol in the Eastern European nation.

A controversial court ruling, which many suggest is a breach of international law, sentenced Aslin and two other men, fellow Brit Shaun Pinner and Moroccan male Saadun Brahim, to death earlier in June – and a protest has been planned to try and enable a safe passage home for the trio.

The protest will be held at Nottingham’s Old Market Square on Sunday, June 26, starting at 10.30am – organised by the Notts Ukraine Solidarity Campaign.

Members of Aiden Aslin’s family will join protestors demanding his safe release from the clutches of the Russian forces in the unrecognised Donetsk People’s Republic state.

Aiden Aslin appearing on Russian state TV in April. | Photo: Twitter

Animosity towards the incident started back in April, when 28-year-old former care worker Aslin, from Newark, appeared on Russian state television along with Shaun Pinner, 48, from Watford.

The pair had been captured by Russian soldiers as they fought alongside the Ukrainian military in a resistance effort in the port city of Mariupol – but were forced to surrender.

Both men called for a prisoner exchange, but have continued to be held in detention, with Aslin even being the subject of an “interview” by freelance British documentary maker Graham Phillips – a man with longstanding Russian ties who has been accused of being a Kremlin mouthpiece.

Aiden Aslin was interviewed by a notorious pro-Russian conspiracy journalist, while in detention for fighting as a Ukrainian marine. | Photo: YouTube

The pair then appeared in a proxy court in the Donetsk People’s Republic, alongside Moroccan national Saadun Brahim, facing war crimes brought to them by pro-Russian rebels.

No witness evidence was allowed at the trial, and all three men were sentenced to death in a verdict that caused uproar in the United Kingdom and beyond.

The court ruling, which has not been recognised by international law, has been widely considered as a breach of the Geneva Convention regarding treatment of prisoners of war – though Russia continue to allege that the men are mercenaries.

Aiden Aslin when he was in Syria. | Photo: Facebook

It has attracted the attention of Aslin’s local MP Robert Jenrick, who mentioned the prisoners in the House of Commons recently, as well as Foreign Secretary Liz Truss – who said the government will do “everything we can” to support his family.

The next step in calling for the men’s release has been to organise a protest near to Aiden’s hometown of Newark, with many expected to attend the rally in Nottingham on Sunday.

Organisers of the upcoming protest say: “We are campaigning for this hideous threat made against them to be lifted.

“We demand their immediate release, the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine and an end to the crimes committed by Putin’s forces on the Ukrainian people and its brave fighters now held as POWs.”