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Ukraine president says ready for Savchenko’s exchange

March 10, 2016, 8:33 UTC+3 KIEV

According to Petro Poroshenko, he is prepared to use his right as president and to exchange the former Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko if needed, returning her home

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Petro Poroshenko

Petro Poroshenko

© Carsten Koall/Getty Images

KIEV, March 9. /TASS/. Ukraine’s President Petro Porosheko said he was ready for exchange of the servicewoman Nadezhda Savchenko who is on trial in Russia, he said in Ankara at a joint news conference with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyp Erdogan on Wednesday.

Poroshenko said that he was prepared to use his right as president and to exchange Savchenko if needed, returning her home.

Earlier in the day, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said talks on a possible exchange of former Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko were not being held and could not take place until the verdict.

"Negotiations on swap of Savchenko were not held and are not being held. This can happen neither in theory nor in practice until the court’s decision," Zakharova said.

Savchenko has been held in Russian custody since July 2014. She was charged with murder, attempted murder and illegal border crossing.

Russia’s investigators say Savchenko, the gunner of a Mi-24 helicopter, joined the Aidar militant battalion and in June 2014 conducted covert surveillance and direction of artillery bombarding targeting a checkpoint in the much-troubled Lugansk region. The settlement was full of civilians, including three Russian journalists.

Two Russian journalists — Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin — from the All-Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Network (VGTRK) died in the shelling.

The court plans to announce the verdict on March 21-22. Russia’s prosecutor has called for a 23-year prison term and a fine of 100,000 rubles ($1,400) for Savchenko.

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