KIEV, April 19. /TASS/. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said that he coordinated an "algorithm of freeing" former Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko by exchanging her for Russian nationals Alexander Aleksandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev in yesterday’s telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On Monday Kiev’s Goloseyevsky District Court found Yerofeyev and Aleksandrov guilty of several counts, including terrorism.
"I initiated a conversation with Putin yesterday, and on the basis of preliminary developments, it seemed to me that we managed to agree on a certain algorithm of freeing Nadezhda [Savchenko]," Poroshenko said on Tuesday at a press conference with Denmark’s Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen.
Poroshenko made it clear that this issue is connected with the verdict delivered to Russian nationals in Kiev. "Yesterday the court announced a verdict in the case of Yerofeyev and Alexandrov, and this verdict opens certain possibilities for using the exchange mechanism," he said.
He did not name any dates noting that "this issue cannot be a subject for political games." He also noted that this may affect other Ukrainian nationals convicted in Russia. "After yesterday’s conversation (with Putin), certain shifts are also possible in the issue of freeing other Ukrainian citizens," the Ukrainian president said.
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.
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.