KIEV, July 19. /TASS/. Ukraine is willing to swap Editor-in-Chief of RIA Novosti Ukraine Kirill Vyshinsky, convicted by a Russian court for terrorism in Crimea Oleg Sentsov is proposed as an option for the exchange, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said at a briefing on Friday.
"We truly want that this moment comes in the near future. We are ready to exchange Vyshinsky. Sentsov is an option, we are ready to swap [him] for Sentsov," the Ukrainian leader said.
At the same time, Zelensky underlined that "Sentsov is not a bargaining chip." "We would like to return all our political prisoners, all our military," he clarified, adding that swapping Vyshinsky can serve as the first step down this path.
Yesterday, Ukrainian president’s press secretary Yulia Mendel announced that the office of the Ukrainian leader had proposed releasing Oleg Sentsov, convicted for terrorism in Crimea, and RIA Novosti Ukraine Editor-in-Chief Kirill Vyshinsky, who remains in custody in Ukraine, at the same time. Earlier, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the return of journalist Kirill Vyshinsky to Russia could serve as the first step in normalization of relations between Moscow and Kiev.
In 2015, Oleg Sentsov was found guilty of terrorism in Russia. The North Caucasus District Military Court sentenced him to 20 years behind bars on charges of setting up a terrorist cell in Crimea and plotting terror attacks in Crimea. In the spring of 2014, the group’s members carried out two terror attacks in Simferopol: they set on fire the offices of Crimea’s Russian Community non-governmental organization and a regional office of the United Russia party.
The Ukrainian Security Service detained RIA Novosti Ukraine Editor-in-Chief Vyshinsky on May 15, 2018, he was charged with treason and gun trafficking. The Kherson City Court arrested him for 2 months on May 17, and later the arrest was extended several times. If convicted, he faces a jail term of up to 15 years. The next hearing is scheduled for July 19, his custody expires on July 22. Judges need to make a decision before this date, otherwise the journalist will be freed.