KIEV, April 18. /TASS/. Ukraine’s Justice Ministry has received a request from former Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko recently sentenced to a long prison term in Russia to start the procedure of her return to Ukraine, the ministry said on its Facebook page on Monday.
"The Justice Ministry of Ukraine has received an appeal from Nadezhda to start the procedure of her return to Ukraine," the ministry said in a statement.
According to the statement, Ukrainian Justice Minister Pavel Petrenko has promised to do "everything possible under international conventions for the return of Nadezhda [Savchenko]."
The Donetsk City Court in Russia’s southern Rostov Region ruled on March 22 to find former Ukrainian pilot Savchenko guilty of directing the pro-Kiev forces’ artillery fire in south-east Ukraine that had killed Russian journalists. She was found guilty of killing Russia’s VGTRK Media Group journalists Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin and illegally crossing the Russian border.
She was sentenced to 22 years in a general-security penal colony and a fine of 30,000 rubles ($440).
The Savchenko trial began on September 22, 2015.As the court said in its verdict, Savchenko had " the skills of military training and experience in military actions in Iraq" and "made her own choice while on a holiday to participate in the armed conflict in Ukraine’s south-east and came to the Aidar battalion under commander Sergey Melnichuk, which was located in the town of Schastye in the Lugansk region."
As Savchenko said earlier, she didn’t recognize the court’s verdict but wouldn’t appeal against it.
Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has said he is ready to swap Savchenko for two Russian nationals Alexander Aleksandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev detained by Ukraine’s army last year.
Kiev’s Goloseyevsky District Court ruled on Monday to find Yerofeyev and Aleksandrov guilty of several counts, including terrorism, and sentenced them to 14 years in jail with confiscation of their property.
Aleksandrov and Yerofeyev were captured by Ukraine’s forces on May 16, 2015, in the Lugansk region, in eastern Ukraine. Kiev claims the detainees are Russian servicemen. However, the Russian Defense Ministry said the Russians "were not active servicemen of Russia’s Armed Forces at the moment of their detention."
Both men say they are not guilty on any of the charges. According to their lawyers, Aleksandrov and Yerofeyev should be considered prisoners of war as both of them were members of the people’s militia of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) when they were detained.
Kremlin Chief of Staff Sergei Ivanov said on March 25 that the swap of convicted Ukrainian fire controller Savchenko for the two Russian nationals was theoretically possible but only on decision by President of Russia Vladimir Putin.
The Kremlin chief of staff also said that the Savchenko case had no relation to the Minsk accords on the ceasefire and political settlement in south-east Ukraine.