Rebel leader released in exchange for Ukrainian security men-separatists

SLAVIANSK Ukraine (Reuters) - Pro-Russian protest leader Pavel Gubarev has been released in exchange for three members of the Ukrainian security services, a spokesman for the separatists military headquarters in the rebel stronghold of Slaviansk said on Wednesday.

Gubarev, who used his Facebook page to help coordinate an uprising across Ukraine's Donetsk region and beyond, was detained by the SBU security service in March on charges of "infringing the territorial integrity and independence of the state".

He was taken from the city of Donetsk to the capital Kiev.

A spokesman at the separatists' military headquarters in Slaviansk, the rebels' most heavily fortified redoubt, said: "It was a swap of hostages for prisoners of war." He did not say where Gubarev was now.

An SBU spokeswoman confirmed that three servicemen had been released. She did not give any other details.

Three SBU officers were taken hostage by the rebels in April and were shown on television with bloodied bandages around their eyes, their arms tied behind their backs and without their trousers. It was not clear whether these men were the ones who had been released by the rebels.

(reporting by Alessandra Prentice and Pavel Polityuk, writing by Elizabeth Piper, editing by Ralph Boulton)

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