A plane carrying Ukrainian sailors, a filmmaker and other former prisoners held by Moscow on terrorism and other charges is flying to Ukraine, according to Ukraine’s general prosecutor. It is set to land in Kiev early on Friday.
However, there has been no official confirmation of the exchange from either Moscow or Kiev so far, but news of the prisoner swap being underway was reported across Russian and Ukrainian media.
The prisoner exchange was the top item on the agenda during the first telephone call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky in July.
Although little was known about the terms and conditions of the impending swap, it was reported at the time that it would include Russian journalist Kirill Vyshinsky, the head of RIA Novosti Ukraine and two dozen sailors detained in the Kerch Strait last November.
The Russian journalist was freed from a Ukrainian prison earlier this week on “personal recognizance,” with his release apparently paving the way for the release of Ukrainian nationals.
It is unclear how many Ukrainian nationals are aboard the Kiev-bound plane and if all 24 crew members of the Ukrainian vessels detained by the Russian Coast Guard are among them.
In November 2018 the sailors got arrested over violating Russian maritime borders in the Kerch Strait . The sailors were send to prison and formally charged with crossing the Russian border illegally.
RT. com / ABC Flash Point News 2019.