At the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis expresses his joy over the exchange of Russian and Ukrainian prisoners, and prays for lasting peace in eastern Ukraine.

"Last week" said the Pope, "the long awaited exchange of prisoners between the Russian Federation and Ukraine took place," Vatican News reported.

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He told the faithful gathered that he rejoices "for the people who have regained their freedom, and are able to re-embrace their loved ones."

Pope Francis also said that he continues to pray "for a quick end to the conflict and for lasting peace in eastern Ukraine."

As UNIAN reported earlier, 24 Ukrainian POW sailors captured by Russian special forces near the Kerch Strait in November 2018, and 11 political prisoners were returned by Russia to Ukraine as part of prisoner exchange on Sept 7. The political prisoners include Roman Sushchenko, Oleh Sentsov, Oleksandr Kolchenko, Volodymyr Balukh, Stanislav Klykh, Mykola Karpyuk, Oleksiy Syzonovych, Pavlo Hryb, Edem Bekirov, Yevhen Panov, and Artur Panov.

Meanwhile, 35 people were transferred to Russia. All of them had been convicted or being tried on various charges.