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Russian Lawmaker Suggests Sentsov May Be Part of Moscow-Kiev Prisoner Swap

© Sputnik / Sergey Pivovarov / Go to the photo bankThe Ukrainian film-maker Oleg Sentsov (center) seen in the North-Caucasian District Military courtroom, Rostov-on-Don, the venue of initial hearings on the acts of terrorism in Crimea
The Ukrainian film-maker Oleg Sentsov (center) seen in the North-Caucasian District Military courtroom, Rostov-on-Don, the venue of initial hearings on the acts of terrorism in Crimea - Sputnik International
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who is serving a prison term in Russia for plotting terrorist attacks, may be included in the Russia-Ukraine prisoner exchange list, a senior Russian lawmaker told Sputnik on Monday.

"I think Sentsov can be included in the exchange list as the issue of his exchange has been repeatedly raised by the Ukrainian side and his name is still relevant [for the exchange]," Deputy Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security Alexei Kondratyev said.

Kondratyev suggested that Sentsov could be exchanged for RIA Novosti Ukraine portal head Kirill Vyshinsky, detained in Ukraine in May on suspicion of treason.

"Currently, his name [Vyshinsky] is not on the list announced by Ukraine, but he may be included in it at any moment," the lawmaker said.

Journalist Kirill Vyshinsky, the director of Russian state news agency RIA Novosti Ukraine, attends a preliminary court hearing in Kherson, Ukraine May 17, 2018 - Sputnik International
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He added, however, that such a swap was unlikely until the journalist's alleged guilt was established by court.

"Vyshinsky is a victim of political games and political madness, sweeping Ukraine. It is absolutely evident that he is not guilty of those crimes he has been accused of, that it was simply a trumped-up political case, and there is nothing [behind those accusations] against him," Kondratyev stressed.

According to Kondratyev, if there is the slightest hope of saving Vyshinsky from unlawful prosecution, it must be used, and Moscow should propose the exchange of any convict serving sentence in Russia for him.

Earlier on Monday, First Deputy Chairman of the Ukrainian parliament Iryna Herashchenko announced the names of 23 Russians whom Ukraine is ready to transfer to Moscow in exchange for Ukrainians convicted in Russia.

In May, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) broke into the office of RIA Novosti Ukraine in Kiev and detained Vyshinsky on suspicion of supporting the self-proclaimed people’s republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. On May 17, a court in the Ukrainian city of Kherson ruled that Vyshinsky should be arrested and detained for 60 days without bail.

Head of the RIA Novosti Ukraine website Kirill Vyshinsky during a hearing of an appeal against his arrest at the Kherson Court - Sputnik International
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Moscow has repeatedly stated that Vyshinsky was arrested directly for his professional activities and the performance of his journalist functions. The situation with Vyshinsky's detention has also drawn the attention of international organizations. Harlem Desir, the representative on media freedom of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), has expressed his concern over the issue and pledged to follow the developments surrounding Vyshinsky's arrest.

Sentsov was convicted by a Russian court in 2015 and sentenced to 20 years in prison for setting up a terrorist cell and plotting a terrorist attack in Crimea. The Ukrainian filmmaker denied his guilt and went on a hunger strike. In June, reports emerged that Sentsov was being force-fed, but they were all refuted by the Russian authorities.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in late May that Kiev was looking into all options to free Sentsov, possibly including the exchange of Vyshinsky for the convicted filmmaker.

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