US national held in DPR custody – media
The number of American citizens captured by pro-Russian troops in Ukraine may be higher than previously thought, The Guardian has claimed. The newspaper reported on Wednesday that another US national has been in custody of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) since last month. This is in addition to two other Americans known to be held.
According to the report, citing the captive’s brother, Suedi Murekezi, 35, was apprehended in June in the southern Ukrainian port city of Kherson, which is currently under Russian control. Friends of his living in the city first noticed Murekezi’s disappearance on June 8, the paper claimed.
His brother, Sele Murekezi, told journalists that Suedi had been residing in Kherson since 2020, having moved to Ukraine two years earlier.
The detained man’s relatives insisted that he had not participated in the fighting and had been falsely accused of taking part in pro-Ukrainian protests.
Sele was able to reach his brother by phone last Thursday for the first time since his disappearance, The Guardian reported. Suedi reportedly said that he was being held in the DPR city of Donetsk in the same prison as two other American citizens, Alexander Drueke and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, who had allegedly served in the Ukrainian military as volunteers prior to their capture. The DPR authorities, however, insist that Drueke and Tai Ngoc Huynh were mercenaries and should be held accountable as such.
When asked for comment, the US Department of State confirmed that it was “aware of reports” of Murekezi’s detention but declined to go into detail, citing “privacy considerations.”
The Guardian also reached out to Russian and DPR authorities but received no response, according to the paper. No official statements regarding the American citizen’s arrest have been forthcoming either.
The paper reported that Murekezi was born in Rwanda, but his family fled to the US after the 1994 genocide. He is said to have served in the US Air Force for eight years before retiring in 2017. He subsequently reportedly began investing in cryptocurrencies – presumably an interest that eventually brought him to Ukraine, which was known for its liberal regulation of digital currencies.
In early March, Russian forces took over Kherson, where the American had been living.