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MOSCOW, May 26. /TASS/. A high-ranking source in Moscow rejected reports on Thursday that the agreement on releasing former Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko was reached during a phone conversation of the Normandy Four group leaders.
"A number of Western officials commenting on the Savchenko swap for two Russians said that the agreement was allegedly reached during a phone conversation of leaders of the Normandy Four countries," the source told TASS.
"This is not true. As it was announced yesterday, the decision had been worked out long before that and made by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko," he said.
During the phone conversation held early on Tuesday the other members of the Normandy Four group (Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia) "were just informed about the decision that had been already made," the source added.
"The statements that this exchange was carried out as part of implementing the Minsk agreements [that envisage release of prisoners - TASS] do not correspond to reality either," the source stressed.
On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to pardon Savchenko, who was sentenced in Russia to 22 years in jail for killing two Russian journalists. The former pilot, who had been in Russian custody for nearly two years, was taken to Kiev onboard the Ukrainian presidential plane on the same day.
As a return move, Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko signed a decree to pardon two former Russian servicemen Alexander Aleksandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, who were captured by Ukraine’s forces in May last year and sentenced in Ukraine to 14 years in jail. They also arrived in Moscow on Wednesday.