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Russia continues attempts to rescue Russians from captivity in Ukraine — Kremlin

May 22, 2015, 21:41 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Russian citizens detained by Ukrainian troops in Donbas face at least 15 years in prison in Ukraine

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Vladimir Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov

Vladimir Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov

© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

MOSCOW, May 22 /TASS/. The Russian side continues attempts to rescue Russians detained in southeastern Ukraine from captivity, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Friday.

"I cannot add anything more to what I have already said. They are Russian nationals who are in captivity. Naturally, the Russian side is taking necessary measures to rescue them from captivity. There is nothing else I can say," the Kremlin spokesperson said.

Peskov said that the Russian Foreign Ministry was supposed to give explanations on the situation that Russian diplomats had been unable to reach the detainees for several days.

Earlier, Peskov said that the Kremlin did not intend to check rumors about the detention of Russian servicemen in Donbas. "The presidential administration should tackle this issue. This theme is not in its competence. This question should not be addressed to us," the presidential spokesman said adding that all inquiries on that subject should be redirected to the Russian Defense Ministry.

"There have never been [Russian] troops in Donbas. We and the Defense Ministry have said many times that there are no Russian military in Donbas," the Kremlin spokesman said.

Russian citizens face at least 15 years in prison in Ukraine

Yevgeny Yerofeyev and Alexander Alexandrov on Thursday were arrested by court in Kiev. 

The two Russian citizens are facing a prison term of at least 15 years, spokesman for the Security Service of Ukraine Vitaly Naida said shortly before. He noted that they were suspected of carrying out "terrorist attacks" under Article 258 of Ukraine’s Criminal Code. "They may be sentenced to at least 15 years in prison," he said.

On Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry made a statement expressing hope for "the release of the former service members detained by Ukraine’s Security Service." "At the time of their detention on May 17, Russian nationals Alexander Alexandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev captured by Ukraine’s Security Service in the Luhansk region were not on active service in the Russian Armed Forces," Defence Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said.

"We checked the Ukrainian side’s information. These guys used to serve in a unit of the Russian Armed Forces and underwent military training. Moreover, I can confirm that the leadership of the Association of Veterans of Special Operations Forces had asked us to contact Ukraine’s General Staff through official channels to put an end to tortures of their wounded comrades by Security Service officers aimed at securing expected confessions," Konashenkov said.

"We reckon on the prudence of the Ukrainian leadership and the speedy release of Alexander Alexandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev," he added.

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