Authorities in the Russia-friendly self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic announced Friday the death in custody of British citizen Paul Urey of natural causes, the first foreigner to die in the custody of pro-Russian separatists since the start of the war in Ukraine.
Urey, identified by Donetsk authorities as a «mercenary,» died on July 10 from «chronic illness and a depressed psychological state,» Donetsk Ombudsman Daria Morozova said on her Telegram channel.
However, DPR Foreign Minister Natalia Nikonorova later detailed to Russia24 channel microphones that the official information is that Urey died of «acute coronary insufficiency, complicated by pulmonary and cerebral edema.»
According to the Ombudsman, Urey was taken prisoner in April while trying to break through a checkpoint controlled by DPR troops. According to Morozova, he was a professional soldier who participated in conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Ukraine, led military operations and was also involved in recruiting and training mercenaries for Ukrainian armed formations.
In contrast, Dominik Byrne, co-founder and chief operating officer of Presidium Network, assured ‘The Guardian’ that Urey, 45, was working independently in Ukraine as a humanitarian aid volunteer.
Morozova has also confirmed that Urey was being held in a DPR penitentiary institution at the time of his death. On admission he was diagnosed with insulin-dependent diabetes, damage to the respiratory system, kidneys and a number of diseases of the cardiovascular system.
In addition, the Ombudsman stated that Urey had been suffering from depression for some time «due to the indifference of the British authorities» to his fate in captivity.
«The British representatives ignored even the possibility of negotiating his return as part of the prisoner exchange procedure, nor did they provide the necessary medical supplies through the ICRC,» Morozova added.
UNITED KINGDOM SEEKS ANSWERS After learning of the information of Urey’s death, the British government has assured that it has launched an «urgent» investigation into the news and took the opportunity to convey its condolences to those close to him, according to a statement picked up by Sky News.
Likewise, the British Foreign Office has issued a statement informing that it has summoned the Russian ambassador in London, Andrei Kelin, to express Downing Street’s concern about what has happened.
«I am appalled by reports of the death of British aid worker Paul Urey, who was being held captive by Russian guards in Ukraine,» said British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who said that «Russia must be held fully accountable for this».
Urey’s daughters told the aforementioned British channel that they were already «preparing for the worst» after learning that he had been arrested in April and confirmed that they did not know he was in Ukraine until they learned of his capture.
Two other British citizens, Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin, are currently under sentence of death after being accused of collaborating with Ukrainian forces, and two more, Dylan Healy and Andrew Hill, have been charged.