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Ukraine Justice Ministry hopes to agree Savchenko exchange procedure in two days

April 19, 18:58 UTC+3 KIEV
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KIEV, April 19. /TASS/. Ukraine hopes to agree with Russia within two days the algorithm of the return of former Ukrainian military servicewoman Nadezhda Savchenko who has been convicted in Russia, Ukrainian Justice Minister Pavel Petrenko said at a briefing in Kiev on Tuesday.

"We have made the decision to allow the diplomats to work for two days with the other side on all the aspects in order to get the algorithm and guarantees of adherence to the timeframe for Nadezhda’s return to Ukraine," he said.

According to Petrenko, the Justice Ministry has prepared all the required legal documents. "We have worked out and discussed today the algorithm of actions that includes, in addition to the legal steps, the political and diplomatic activities with the aim of maximally speeding up the process of Nadezhda’s return to Ukraine," the minister said.

Petrenko added that the exchange issue is considered by the two sides, therefore the timeframe and procedure depend on both of them. "The side that passed the sentence makes the decision on the handover by a ruling of its court," he said, adding that Kiev cannot influence the Russian decision making process on that case.

Petrenko said that "Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko keeps track of the issue of the return of other Ukrainians" convicted in Russia.

"We have launched a legal mechanism for the return of our citizens under the convention. We exert extra efforts on Savchenko in order to accelerate this process," he said.

The minister said that the Justice Ministry expects from Ukrainian diplomats "a corresponding signal and Russia’s corresponding request," as it was in the case of Alexander Kolchenko, Oleg Sentsov and Gennady Afanasyev. According to the minister, the Russian side as of today has made no official requests to Kiev on the convicted in Ukraine Russian citizens Yevgeny Yerofeyev and Alexander Alexandrov.

In late March, Poroshenko said he was ready to exchange Yerofeyev and Alexanrdov for Nadezhda Savchenko who was convicted in Russia.

Commenting on his statement on the same day, Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said that the Russian side in this case "would act in strict compliance with its national legislation."

Poroshenko said on Tuesday that he coordinated an "algorithm of freeing" former Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko by exchanging her for Russian nationals Alexander Alexandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday.

On Monday, Kiev’s Goloseyevsky District Court found Yerofeyev and Alexandrov guilty of several counts, including terrorism, and sentenced them to 14 years in jail with confiscation of their property. "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 told a news 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.

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 would not lodge an appeal against it.

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