“Good news about the political prisoners in Russia [Nadia Savchenko, Yury Soloshenko, Hennadiy Afanasyev] can appear already before the end of May,” the Petro Poroshenko Bloc quoted Verkhovna Rada First Deputy Speaker Iryna Gerashchenko as saying, Interfax-Ukraine reports.
She said that the Ukrainian humanitarian subgroup had been conducting a very large amount of work to return the Ukrainians at the Minsk talks. “I want to note that the president is personally controlling the issue of the release of hostages,” Gerashchenko said.
“If speaking about the release of hostages, which are being held in occupied Donbas, there are 112 Ukrainians there today: these are the military and civilians. And the process of their freeing is still blocked: militants demand the amnesty be declared,” she said.
Afanasyev has been a defendant in the case over the setting up of a terrorist community in the Russian internal Republic of Crimea and has been sentenced to seven years at a high-security penal colony in Russia in the previous year as a suspected accomplice of Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov.
Later, in August 2015, the North Caucasus District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don sentenced Sentsov to 20 years at a high-security penal colony for setting up a terrorist community in Crimea. Sentsov pleaded not guilty.
On October 14, 2015, the Moscow City Court found Soloshenko, 73, former general director of the state-run enterprise Production Association Zorya (Poltava) guilty of espionage and sentenced him to six years in a high-security penal colony.
On March 22, the Donetsk City Court in the Rostov region found Savchenko guilty in the case of killing of Russian journalists, Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin, and sentenced her to 22 years in a penal colony. The court also found her guilty of attempted murder and illegal crossing of the Russian border.
Ukraine has later filed to the Russian Justice Ministry a request to extradite Savchenko to serve the punishment in her country.