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More than 60% of Russians support Savchenko’s exchange — poll

June 15, 2016, 15:15 UTC+3 MOSCOW

According to the poll, the very opportunity to give freedom to Russian citizens is seen as a far greater value than fair punishment

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Nadezhda Savchenko

Nadezhda Savchenko

© Piotr Sivkov/TASS

MOSCOW, June 15. /TASS/. More than 60% of Russians have agreed that the exchange of Ukraine’s former military servicewoman Nadezhda Savchenko for two Russians was a reasonable arrangement, as follows from a poll held by the national public opinion studies center VTsIOM, published on the pollster’s website.

"As many as 61% of our citizens say that the Ukrainian air pilot’s exchange for Russian prisoners of war was the correct move. Only 21% think otherwise," the pollster said. "Of those polled 75% said they heard Savchenko had been pardoned, and 24% replied they had no prior knowledge of the swap."

At the same time 25% of respondents believe that Savchenko’s pardon will not bring about any consequences for Russia, and 55% made no comment. Another 8% of the questioned suspect that the effects may be negative and did not rule out an act of aggression by Ukraine. Seventy percent of the polled do believe Savchenko was an accomplice to the killing of Russian journalists during hostilities in Donbass, while 25% offered no answer.

"The public mind is by and large positive about the final outcome of the Savchenko affair. Although a majority has a negative attitude to Savchenko and supported her conviction, the very opportunity to give freedom to Russian citizens is seen as a far greater value than fair punishment," the chief of VTsIOM’s research projects, Mikhail Mamonov said about the opinion poll.

Savchenko last March was found guilty of complicity in the killing of two Russian TV journalists, Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin, and of the illegal crossing of the Russian border. The court sentenced her to 22 years in prison. On May 25 Russian President Vladimir Putin pardoned her. Savchenko was handed over to Ukraine later the same day. Simultaneously, Kiev pardoned and released two Russians, Aleksandr Aleksandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, convicted in Ukraine. Both were back home the same day.

The VTsIOM poll was conducted on June 4-5, 2016 in 130 cities and communities across Russia. An audience of 1,600 men and women of age was polled. The error margin did not exceed 3.5%.

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