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Poroshenko ready to swap two Russians on trial in Ukraine for Savchenko

March 22, 2016, 17:27 UTC+3

The two Russians detained in Donbass are facing life sentence in Ukraine

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Yevgeny Yerofeyev and Alexander Aleksandrov

Yevgeny Yerofeyev and Alexander Aleksandrov

© Maxim Pab/TASS, archive

KIEV, March 22 /TASS/. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said he is ready to exchange Russians Yevgeny Yerofeyev and Alexander Aleksandrov, who were detained in Donbass and are currently standing trial in Ukraine, for convicted Ukrainian ex-pilot Nadezhda Savchenko.

"I am ready to hand over the two Russian servicemen who were detained in our territory for taking part in a military aggression against Ukraine to Russia. The trial against them is in the final stage. I am ready to use certain procedures to ensure their departure from Ukraine as soon as the trial is over," Poroshenko said in his address after a Russian court had sentenced Savchenko to 22 years in jail earlier on Tuesday.

According to him, such an approach will be in line with point 6 of the Minsk agreements under which the sides in the Donbas conflict should exchange prisoners according to the all for all principle.

Poroshenko said that Ukraine would never recognize Savchenko’s verdict as fair. He believes that Ukraine and other countries should impose individual sanctions on all the people linked to the verdict.

Possibility of Savchenko serving her term in Ukraine

Mikhail Fedotov, the chairman of the Russian president’s council for the development of civil society and human rights, said on Tuesday he doesn’t rule out negotiations on Nadezhda Savchenko’s serving her prison term in Ukraine as soon as verdict comes into force.

"The term does not matter. What matters is that the verdict will come into force in ten days unless challenged on appeal. After that, talks may begin on Savchenko’s serving her term in Ukraine," he said, adding that such talks, if any, will be referred to the sphere of international politics rather than human rights.

A court in the Russian city of Donetsk sentenced Ukrainian ex-pilot Nadezhda Savchenko to 22 years in a general regime penal colony and a fine worth 30,000 rubles ($442 U.S. dollars) on Tuesday.

Savchenko was found guilty of murdering VGTRK journalists Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin; of an attempt to kill civilians and of illegal crossing of the Russian state border.

Savchenko’s term will be calculated from the date of detention - June 30, 2014. Her prison sentence will last for 20 years and 3 months.

Savchenko earlier said she disagreed with the verdict but would not appeal the court ruling.

The sentence will come into force in 10 days if the ex-pilot does not submit an appeal.

A Kiev district court extended the term of stay in custody for Russians Aleksandrov and Yerofeyev until May 19 on March 21. The next court hearing on their case is scheduled for April 5. Subsequent hearings will take place on April 11, 13 and 18.

Ukrainian servicemen detained the two Russians, Alexandr Aleksandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, near the Schastye village in Ukraine’s Lugansk region on May 16, 2015 on charges of illegally crossing of the Ukrainian border, illegal possession of weapons and terrorist links. The Russians are facing a life sentence.

Aleksandrov and Yerofeyev did not plead guilty on any of the counts. Their lawyers said the two should be considered prisoners of war because they were serving in the people’s militia of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) at the time they were detained. The lawyers demand the trial of Aleksandrov and Yerofeyev be organized in accordance with the Geneva Convention.

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