Ukrainian pilot, MP and member of the Ukrainian delegation to PACE Nadiya Savchenko, who was sentenced in Russia to 22 years in prison on murder charges, may be exchanged for a group of Russian citizens, including Viktor Bout and Konstantin Yaroshenko, who are serving lengthy prison terms in the United States, an anonymous source told Interfax.ru on Tuesday, UNIAN reports.
“Consultations are underway, including through confidential channels, on the possibility of releasing Savchenko through a swap. The Russian side proposed a list of its citizens in exchange for whom it is ready to release the former Ukrainian soldier,” one of the sources said.
Russia’s list includes businessman Viktor Bout and pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, he said. “There are also Russians whose activity is usually not made public among them,” the source said.
The source sees no serious obstacles to such an exchange, after Savchenko’s sentence goes into effect.
“Exchanges of one person for several people have taken place before. In the case of Savchenko, the issue is about a convict sentenced for a grave crime – the murder of Russian citizens. Those who she may be exchanged for killed no one,” the source said.
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said a day before that a decision regarding a possible exchange of Savchenko has yet to be made. “So far, I can only tell you that no actions have been taken. Savchenko is a convict de facto and de jure,” Peskov said.
The source also said nothing about two Russian GRU officers Aleksandrov and Yerofeyev who were captured by Ukrainian troops near the town of Schastia in Luhansk region on May 16.
Earlier it was not ruled out that Savchenko could be exchanged for these two servicemen, while Russia does not recognize that they are Russian troops.
Savchenko’s lawyer Mark Feygin suggested that the exchange of Nadia for these GRU officers was impossible under the Minsk agreements, as in this case Russia would have to recognize itself a party to the conflict in Donbas.