Michigan native reportedly held by Russian troops released in Ukraine

The Detroit News

A Michigan native who was accused of espionage by Russian troops in Ukraine has been freed, a private group said Thursday.

Kirillo Alexandrov, 27, who had moved to Ukraine, was then taken to Poland along with his Ukrainian wife and her mother, said Project Dynamo, a volunteer group based in Tampa. 

The U.S. State Department provided Alexandrov with an emergency-expedited passport, said Project Dynamo.

A spokesperson for the State Department told The Detroit News it was aware of the “reports” about Alexandrov but declined to comment, citing privacy considerations.

CNN reported Alexandrov's release Wednesday.

Project Dynamo, which formed last year to rescue people from Afghanistan, said it had negotiated with Russia for a month to secure Alexandrov’s release.

The trio was arrested in March outside the city of Kherson in southern Ukraine, said Project Dynamo. They were trying to flee the region after its occupation by Russian troops.

On Monday, Project DYNAMO rescued the family by navigating more than 20 Russian checkpoints and taking the family to a secure location near Kherson, the agency said. After spending one night in a safe house, they continued on to another undisclosed location where they were met by the Project DYNAMO exfiltration team backed by an armed Ukrainian security detail.  

Project DYNAMO is a donor-funded, Florida-based, nonprofit organization that has been operating throughout Ukraine since early February and negotiating for Alexandrov’s release since early April.

In late March, while attempting to evacuate his home near Kherson, Ukraine — more than 100 kilometers behind the front lines and wholly controlled by Russian forces — Alexandrov and his family were captured, detained, and falsely charged by the Russian military and security services with 11 fabricated crimes that included alleged spying and espionage on behalf of the U.S. government.

According to Alexandrov, Russian soldiers violently assaulted his wife, handcuffed him, beat him on multiple occasions, and conducted mock executions, a direct violation of the Geneva Convention and a violation of basic professional military honor and human dignity.

Alexandrov accused Russia of war crimes, saying he and his relatives thought they would be killed every day.

“I was in the dark as to what was going on, or what else the Russians would do to me and my family,” he said in a statement released by Project Dynamo.

Alexandrov was charged with a multitude of crimes related to spying for the U.S. government, said Project Dynamo. Alexandrov said they weren’t true.

After their release, the three captives embarked on a road trip out of Ukraine, said Project Dynamo. They were met by Alexandrov’s mother, who had flown in from Michigan.

Project Dynamo said it has freed 600 people in dozens of such missions since February. In September, it arranged for the evacuations of 100 Americans flown from Afghanistan.