Exchange of Political Prisoners: Zelensky Expects First Results Soon
Reports of Ukrainian political prisoners being transferred to Lefortovo detention center in Moscow have been trickling out the past several days
Photo from Ukrinform-UATV
The exchange of prisoners, using the formula 33 for 33, may happen soon, if approved by both Ukraine and Russia.
According to information published by Current Time in the ‘Vecher’ program on August 22, 2019, over the past two days, eight Ukrainian political prisoners were delivered to the Lefotovo pre-trial detention center. The journalists Stanislav Klykh and Roman Suschenko were among them. Also, the media claims that the list of Ukrainian prisoners for exchange may contain the 24 Ukrainian sailors who have also been kept in Lefortovo.
Journalists, referring to lawyers in Ukraine, disclosed the names of Russian prisoners who are expected to be exchanged for Ukrainians. Among them are former Ukrainian military defectors who switched to the Russian army after the annexation of Crimea. These are Maksim Odintsov and Aleksandr Baranov. Among others are Igor Kimakovskiy, suspected of espionage, and Yevgeny Mefiodov, accused of encroaching on the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
According to BBC Ukraine, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky said that he had been working on possible captive exchanges for two months and that he expected to see the first results in the next few days.
“We are waiting for the results, step by step. The first results should be in the next few days. I don’t want to guess the future,” Zelensky said.
The first signs, speculating the upcoming exchange began to appear in the media on August 20, 2019. Russian human rights activists managed to bring food to five Ukrainian political prisoners held in the Lefortovo jail. Several days before, information about the disappearance of some of them, in particular, Volodymyr Balukh and Mykola Karpiuk from the places of their detention, was voiced by the lawyers in media. From August 21 there was no official confirmation from Lefortovo about the transfer of prisoners, reports of human rights activists cast light on the whereabouts of Balukh, Karpyuk, as well as the possible transfer of Pavlo Hryb, Oleksandr Kolchenko and Stanislav Klykh.
BBC Ukraine cites Interfax Russia about Ukrainian citizens who have been transferred to Lefortovo, as they were being prepared for an exchange in the near future.
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