Ukraine’s Poroshenko ready to swap 11 Russian convicts for Oleg Sentsov

The Ukrainian president is ready to pardon those who asked Putin to exchange them for Ukrainian political prisoners in Russian jails.

The case concerns 11 Russians convicted for ‘serious crimes against the sovereignty of the country’, Irina Gerashchenko, a Ukrainian representative in the humanitarian contact group on Donbas, said on Facebook.

I would like to make public the fact that these citizens were convicted under grave articles, including terrorism. So, if the Kremlin calls Oleg Sentsov ‘terrorist’ on the basis of the fabricated case, let them take care of the real terrorists,” she stressed.

Mainly Russians who were taken prisoner during the fights against the Ukrainian army in Donbas were sentenced for terrorism in the country.

According to the Ukrainian politician, there has been no response to their previous earlier initiative to exchange Ukrainian prisoners for ’36 saboteurs, spies, terrorists and criminals and an offer of holding a meeting of the Ukrainian and the Russian ombudsmen.

In a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Ukrainian leader has paid special attention to the issue of the release of Ukrainian hostages, in particular, the need for the immediate release of Oleg Sentsov, Interfax Ukraine reports.

The Ukrainian film director, who demands that the Russian authorities release all Ukrainians jailed in Russia and Crimea, went on hunger strike on May, 14. There are 64 Ukrainian prisoners in Russia and Crimea.

In August 2015, a Russian court sentenced Oleg Sentsov to 20 years of imprisonment. He was found guilty of an “attempt to organize a ‘cell of ‘Right Sector’ [Ukrainian right-wing organisation] in Crimea”. The trial was held in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, The case was considered by North Caucasus District Military Court. The film director did not admit his guilt.

The charge was based on the testimony of Alexey Chyrny and Gennady Afanasiev. In court Afanasiev withdrew evidence saying that he had been tortured in jail. It is impossible to swap Sentsov for any Russian prisoner in Ukraine, because after the annexation of Crimea Russia started considering the Ukrainian director a citizen of Russia.

A group of renowned Western actors and directors stood up for Oled Sentsov and asked the Russian authorities to release him. Andrzej Wajda, Cate Blanchett, Johnny Depp, Wim Wenders and others are among the petitioners. Amnesty International and Russian human rights center Memorial recognised Sentsov prisoner of conscience.

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