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ATHENS, May 27 /TASS/. It was very important to return convicted Russian nationals from Ukraine. The pardoning of former Ukrainian serviceman Nadezhda Savchenko has got nothing to do with the Minsk -2 package of measures designed to implement the Minsk Accord for the settlement in Eastern Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a news conference.
"The number one task for us in this connection was to return two Russian nationals, who were convicted by a Ukrainian court and were serving their prison sentences in Ukraine, back home," Putin said.
"It is of no relation to the Minsk Accords, which mention persons held in Donbas or people who were taken to Ukraine from the territory of Donbas," Putin explained.
On May 25, the Russian president signed a decree to pardon the former Ukrainian serviceman Nadezhda Savchenko, who had been in custody in Russia for the past two years. Savchenko was handed over to the Ukrainian side in exchange for the two Russians, Alexander Alexandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, who were convicted in Ukraine. The former pilot was taken to Kiev onboard the Ukrainian presidential plane the same day.
On March 22, 2016, the Donetsk City Court in Russia’s southern Rostov region found Savchenko guilty of directing the pro-Kiev forces’ artillery fire in southeast Ukraine that had killed two Russian journalists - Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin. Savchenko was also found guilty of illegally crossing the Russian border and was sentenced to 22 years in a general-security penal colony and a fine of 30,000 rubles ($440).
Alexander Alexandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, in turn, were convicted in Kiev for illegal crossing of the Ukrainian border; for carrying weapons and for being involved in the activities of a terrorist organization. A Ukrainian court sentenced both Russians to 14 years in jail.
The Donbas problem can be resolved only if Kiev implements the Minsk Accords, their political part in particular, Russian President said.
"The Donbas problem can be resolved, and Mr Prime Minister [Alexis Tsipras] has just mentioned that, exclusively through implementation of the Minsk Accords, and of their key political part in particular," the Russian leader said.
He said it was necessary to amend Ukraine’s constitution, in the first place, in part of decentralization. He suggested using the Greek experience. Second, he said, it was necessary to adopt an amnesty law. "How can elections be held and how can people be integrated into state structures if they are under prosecution? And finally, a law on the Donbas special status should come into force," Putin said.
He added that it was impossible to postpone those decisions under the pretext that shooting was still under way near the line of contact. If there is no desire to carry out political transformations, then anybody can shoot and this process can be infinite if political decisions are not made.