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Kremlin declines comment on tonality of Putin-Poroshenko talk on Savchenko’s fate

April 19, 13:46 UTC+3
The Russian and Ukrainian leaders held their telephone talk on Monday night, touching upon the issue of Savchenko, as well as the fate of Russian nationals convicted in Ukraine
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Nadezhda Savchenko

Nadezhda Savchenko

© AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev

MOSCOW, April 19. /TASS/. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to give explanations on Tuesday on the tonality of a telephone talk between the presidents of Russia and Ukraine on the fate of Ukrainian ex-pilot Nadezhda Savchenko.

The Russian and Ukrainian leaders held their telephone talk on Monday night, touching upon the issue of Savchenko, as well as the fate of Russian nationals Alexander Aleksandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev detained and convicted in Ukraine.

"We are not announcing or giving any explanations on the tonality of the discussion on the fate of these citizens," Peskov said, referring to Savchenko recently sentenced to a long prison term in Russia and two Russian nationals Yerofeyev and Aleksandrov slapped with a 14-year prison term in Ukraine on Monday.

The Kremlin spokesman declined to answer a question about when changes might take place in the life of Savchenko and the two Russian nationals.

"I don’t know. All the rest is not subject to comment," Peskov said.

According to the Kremlin spokesman, the sole formulation the Kremlin would like to be confined to is that during their telephone talk Russian leader Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Pyotr Poroshenko "discussed the fate of Savchenko and the fate of the two Russian nationals convicted yesterday."

"We reported yesterday that Ukraine’s consul-general in Rostov-on-Don would be allowed to see Savchenko. So far, this is all the information we’re ready to announce following the results of this talk," the Kremlin spokesman said.

According to Peskov, the Russian and Ukrainian presidents also discussed the political settlement in southeast Ukraine and other issues of bilateral relations.

"I won’t be able to specify," the Kremlin spokesman said.

The Donetsk City Court in Russia’s southern Rostov Region ruled on March 22 to find former Ukrainian pilot Savchenko guilty of directing the pro-Kiev forces’ artillery fire in south-east Ukraine that had killed Russian journalists. She was found guilty of killing Russia’s VGTRK Media Group journalists Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin and illegally crossing the Russian border.

She was sentenced to 22 years in a general-security penal colony and a fine of 30,000 rubles ($440).

The Savchenko trial began on September 22, 2015.

As the court said in its verdict, Savchenko had " the skills of military training and experience in military actions in Iraq" and "made her own choice while on a holiday to participate in the armed conflict in Ukraine’s south-east and came to the Aidar battalion under commander Sergey Melnichuk, which was located in the town of Schastye in the Lugansk region."

As Savchenko said earlier, she didn’t recognize the court’s verdict but wouldn’t appeal against it.

Ukrainian President Poroshenko has said he is ready to swap Savchenko for two Russian nationals Aleksandrov and Yerofeyev detained by Ukraine’s army last year.

Kiev’s Goloseyevsky District Court ruled on Monday to find Yerofeyev and Aleksandrov guilty of several counts, including terrorism, and sentenced them to 14 years in jail with confiscation of their property.

Aleksandrov and Yerofeyev were captured by Ukraine’s forces on May 16, 2015, in the Lugansk region, in eastern Ukraine. Kiev claims the detainees are Russian servicemen. However, the Russian Defense Ministry said the Russians "were not active servicemen of Russia’s Armed Forces at the moment of their detention."

Both men say they are not guilty on any of the charges. According to their lawyers, Aleksandrov and Yerofeyev should be considered prisoners of war as both of them were members of the people’s militia of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) when they were detained.

Kremlin Chief of Staff Sergey Ivanov said on March 25 that the swap of convicted Ukrainian fire controller Savchenko for the two Russian nationals was theoretically possible but only on decision by President of Russia Putin.

The Kremlin chief of staff also said that the Savchenko case had no relation to the Minsk accords on the ceasefire and political settlement in south-east Ukraine.

Russian Consul to Ukraine Alexey Gruby told reporters on Monday Russia would take steps within the legal framework to return Russian nationals Aleksandrov and Yerofeyev to their home country, "The Russian side has taken and is taking all possible steps to return our citizens to their home country. Steps will be taken within the legal framework for returning Aleksandrov and Yerofeyev to their homeland," he said.

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