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Poroshenko signs decree on pardoning Russian citizens convicted in Ukraine

May 25, 2016, 16:32 UTC+3

Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier on Wednesday signed an order on pardoning former Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko

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Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko

© Mikhail Palinchak/TASS

KIEV, May 25. /TASS/. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has signed a decree on pardoning Russian citizens Alexander Aleksandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev. According to the published document, this decision was made "after consideration of the corresponding request for pardoning persons convicted by Ukrainian courts and the proposal of the Pardoning Commission."

The decree is dated May 24, 2016 and takes effect upon signature.

 Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier on Wednesday signed an order on pardoning former Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko

 Alexander Alexandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev were airlifted from Ukraine to Russia.

The two Russians were met by their wives, Yekaterina and Yulia, on the airfield the moment they were off the ladder.

Yulia Yerofeyeva told TASS she had been very nervous about her husband’s plight but remained certain about a favorable outcome all the way.

"Of course, we were looking forward to their return. We felt very strained, but we never lost hope they’d get back home soon. We were certain they won’t be left in the lurch," said Yulia.

Both women recalled it was incredibly hard for them to carry on while their husbands were away in captivity.

"Since the day when Yevgeny volunteered to go to Donbass, I was beside myself with anxiety," said Yulia. "We kept fingers crossed for them all along," echoed Yekaterina.

Both women thanked all those who had been by their side throughout the months of waiting, uncertainty and anxiety.

Russians detained in Donbass

Russians Aleksandrov and Yerofeyev were detained by the Ukrainian military in May 2015 in the area of the Schastye settlement in the Lugansk region. Kiev said that they are allegedly Russian military servicemen and accused them of illegal border crossing, possession of arms and participation in a terrorist organization.

The Russian Defense Ministry denied the allegations, saying that the seized Russian citizens were not active servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces at the moment of their detention. Alexandrov and Yerofeyev pled not guilty to all the charges against them, and their lawyers said that their clients, in accordance with the Geneva Convention, should be regarded as prisoners of war, as at the moment of their detention they were members of the people’s militia of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR).

Nevertheless, a court in Kiev sentenced them to 14 years in prison with confiscation of property. The sentence took effect on May 23, 2016.

Ukrainian President Petro 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 Nadezhda 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).

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