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‘My life depends on it’: British man asks Boris Johnson for help after capture by Russian forces

After being told that he might be executed, a British man was taken prisoner by Russian forces in Ukraine.

John Harding, a man in his 50s, originally from Sunderland is believed to have been captured while fighting alongside the Azov Regiment of the Ukrainian National Guard while helping to defend Mariupol in May.

After being bombarded relentlessly, the Ukrainian forces were forced into surrender in the port city.



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A video of Mr Harding was shared by Kim Marina, a Russian journalist, on Friday via Telegram messaging app. He said: “I would like to say to Boris Johnson that if I can help, if there is any way you can influence President Zelenskyy or the presidents of the Donetsk People’s Republics (DPR), then please do.”

This is what people’s lives depend on. Please help if you can.

“Because I’m afraid of the death penalty, my friends will also face the death sentence.”

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Friends and family of Mr Harding have confirmed to BBC that he is the one in the video. His relatives are being supported and assisted by the Foreign Office.

Before being captured, he had been fighting in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine since 2018.



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Ms Marina later asks Mr Harding, if he were sentenced to death, what would his last words be to Katherine?

Mr Harding replied: “Obviously, she would tell me that I wish I had spent more time with you, but I didn’t.” “I don’t know.”

He asked her if he would tell her that he loved her. Mr Harding smoked a cigarette and then said: “Ofcourse.” All fathers love their daughters.

It is not known what the age of Mrs Harding’s daughter is.

In a post that was attached to the video, Ms Marina states that the clip will be featured on a documentary called “Nazi Punishers” and that two Britons were sentenced to death in the same cell.

Although she doesn’t identify the men, two British fighters Aiden Aslin (28), and Shaun Pinner (48) were captured in Mariupol. They were sentenced by a Russian proxy court to death in the DPR last month.

If Mr Harding was in a cell with these two men, he would also be held in DPR.

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“God will judge”: Aiden Aslin reacts on death sentence


Foreign Office condemns’sham judgments’

In 2018, Mr Harding and Mr Pinner both moved to Ukraine at the same time. They made Ukraine their home.

Although the men were found to have been mercenaries by the UK Foreign Office, the verdicts were deemed “sham judgments” by the UK Foreign Office.

A Russian journalist shared Friday a video of Mr Aslin singing Russian National Anthem, just weeks after he was sentenced to death.

This happened after a British humanitarian worker was taken prisoner by Russian separatists in Ukraine earlier this week.

Paul Urey died on 10 July from “sickness”, according to the Foreign Office information.

Officials from DPR claimed that he died in captivity due to underlying health conditions, stress, and other causes.

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