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ST. PETERSBURG, May 18. /TASS/. A transfer request for two Russian citizens convicted in Ukraine, namely Alexander Aleksandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, will be filed after they both give their consent to serve sentences in the native country, Russian Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov said on Wednesday.
"The most important in this issue is the interest of the Russian citizens," Konovalov said. "It must be their initiative as they cannot be forced to the transfer."
"The transfer of convicted persons to serve sentence in their native country has been always a trilateral model, which requires consensus on behalf of the transferring side, the receiving side and the convicts. There must be a unity of opinions," Konovalov added.
Kiev’s Goloseyevsky District Court ruled on April 18 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.
Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko said earlier he was ready to swap both Russians for former Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko, convicted in Russia.
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).