Ukraine crisis: Colonel captured during storming of Crimea's Belbek airbase set free

After deaths threats and imprisonment, the leader of Ukrainian military resistance is leaving Crimea

Kiev

Colonel Yuli Manchur, who became the most prominent face of Ukrainian military resistance in Crimea has been freed by the Russians who captured him after his base was stormed, The Independent has learned.

The Commander of Belbek airbase was  said to have been released this afternoon and is now believed to be on his way out of Crimea by road along with his wife Larisa.

Former colleagues who met him briefly stated that Col Manchur did not show any obvious signs of injury, but looked drained and unwell and may require medical treatment. It is believed that one of the conditions of his freedom was that he would leave Crimea which was formally annexed by Moscow, triggering one of the most severe international crisis in recent years.

It is believed that the Col Manchur and a number of others who were released with him, would be decorated by the Ukrainian government; their conduct had been the only bright light in what had been a humiliating episode for the country. However, the Colonel and many other senior Ukrainian officers in Crimea, had spoken of their disappointment at not receiving any clear instructions or guidance from Kiev during the grueling weeks of siege by the forces of Moscow and their separatist allies.

 

The defence minister, Ihor Tenyukh, resigned this week amid growing public anger about the impotence shown by Kiev as bases were taken over and ships captured in Crimea by the Russians.

Col Manchur was last seen being taken away for what he had been told was a meeting with senior Russian officers last Saturday after the walls of Belbek were smashed down by Armoured Personnel Carriers. He told his troops, who had sang the national anthem with guns pointed at them, that he would return to report to them the terms which would be offered for safe passage for those who wanted to do so.

The next day officials of Crimea's separatist government claimed that Col Manchur had been released along with another officer who had been held at another location. But Mrs Manchur and officers at Belbek told The Independent that he had not contacted them and his mobile telephone had been switched off.

Read more: Putin gets full backing - from Steven Seagal

 Col Manchur had attracted particular venom from Crimean separatists for his widely publicised refusal to surrender his base. The brakes in the family car, a Renault Megane, had been cut; there had been death threats; posters had been put up in ultra Russian nationalist Sevastopol demanding his execution for treachery.

The Ukrainian government had been vocal in demanding his release, asking for international help to secure this. The acting president, Oleksander Turchynov denounced the “abduction”; Vitali Klitschko, who is expected to run for the post in forthcoming elections, put out a series of statements saying that the Colonel was almost certainly being held in the detention facilities of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol.

Col Manchur had, however, before his incarceration, complained, about how he and his fellow Ukrainian commanders had received no help from the Kiev government despite repeated requests. A telling example of this came during a particularly tense stand-off with the Russians; his mobile phone rang, it was the Ministry of Defence in Kiev. What were the instructions? We, the journalists, eagerly asked. “Nothing, they asked me to use my own judgment. That has been the case ever since this started.”

There were many in Belbek who felt let down by the Ukraine government. Larisa Mamchur was one of them. The day the base was overrun, she spoke of the anger felt by the troops and their families. “We have been abandoned by the new government in Kiev. All these new ministers have been full of big words, but they simply abandoned us to all the dangers.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
News
The monkey made several attempts to revive his friend before he regained consciousness
video
Extras
indybest
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Sport
Brendan Rodgers looks on from the touchline
SPORT
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst - Bristol

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick