Russia’s Putin, Ukraine’s Poroshenko Talk over Prisoners

Russia’s Putin, Ukraine’s Poroshenko Talk over Prisoners
Tue Apr 19, 2016 12:17:41

Russian President Vladimir Putin has held discussions with his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko about a Ukrainian pilot currently being held in Russia and two Russians detained in Ukraine.

The Kremlin said the two leaders discussed the fate of Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko, sentenced to 22 years in a Russian prison in March and the two soldiers.

A Ukrainian court on Monday sentenced Alexander Alexandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, captured last May, to 14 years in prison for involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Poroshenko has previously proposed swapping Savchenko for the Russians.

The Kremlin said the two leaders had agreed that Moscow would "soon" allow Ukraine's consul general to visit Savchenko in prison.

Poroshenko’s office, in a separate statement, announced that the Ukrainian president urged his Russian counterpart to allow Savchenko’s “immediate” release.

Last month, a Russian court sentenced Savchenko to jail for her alleged involvement in the killing of two Russian reporters in the troubled Russian-speaking eastern region of Ukraine.

Savchenko has gone on a hunger strike in protest at the sentence, and her health condition is said to be deteriorating quickly.

Poroshenko also urged Putin to let Ukrainian and German doctors examine the 34-year-old pilot.

Savchenko was serving as a volunteer with Ukraine’s ground forces in July 2014 when pro-Moscow militiamen captured her in eastern Ukraine. She then emerged in Russia.

Savchenko has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and insists that she was smuggled illegally into Russia to face trial there.

The Ukrainian president’s office confirmed that the fate of Yerofeyev and Aleksandrov was also discussed with the Russian leader, but did not provide any details.

Putin said last week that Moscow was engaged in negotiations with Kiev about handing Savchenko over to Ukraine in return for the jailed Russian duo.

Kiev claims that the two Russians were serving in an elite Russian military intelligence unit in Ukraine’s eastern region of Lugansk before being arrested in May 2015.

Moscow, on the other hand, says the two men, previous soldiers, were no more on active duty of the Russian army, and had crossed the border into eastern Ukraine simply of their own will.

Relations between Moscow and Kiev strained after the Crimean Peninsula joined Russia after a referendum in March 2014.

The ties soured further after Kiev started a military crackdown on pro-Russia forces fighting for greater autonomy in the two mainly Russian-speaking regions of Lugansk and Donetsk in the east of the country.

According to the United Nations, over 9,000 people have lost their lives and some 20,000 have been injured in the conflict since April 2014, Press TV reported.

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