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MOSCOW, April 20. /TASS/. Russia has political will for possible exchange of former Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko for Russian nationals convicted in Ukraine, Russian Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko said on Wednesday.
"The discussion is underway on the legal formula of possible exchange. I do not rule it out, every opportunity to save the lives of our citizens should be used," Matviyenko said. "Political will is needed on both sides for this to happen, and there is political will on our side," she added.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Tuesday that he agreed an "algorithm of freeing" former Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko by exchanging her for Russian nationals Alexander Alexandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev in a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Commenting on Poroshenko’s statement, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday that "Russia will act in strict accordance with national legislature" in this case. "Only the president can make a decision on this. I cannot say which (decision he will make)," Peskov noted.
Russian nationals Alexander Alexandrov and Yevgeny 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, Alexandrov 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.
The Donetsk City Court in Russia’s southern Rostov Region ruled on March 22 to find former Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda 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.