A plane with people released under the Moscow-Kiev deal has landed in the Russian capital, a Sputnik correspondent reported. Later the Kremlin confirmed that the exchange of detainees between Russia and Ukraine has been completed.
"Yes, the exchange has taken place. We welcome and are glad that Russian citizens have returned home," a Kremlin spokesperson said.
Kirill Vyshinsky, the head of RIA Novosti Ukraine who was charged with treason over his support for the breakaway republics in Ukraine's east and has spent over 400 days in custody in Ukraine, landed in Moscow as part of the swap deal. Upon leaving the plane, the journalist said he had 'very good' feelings about coming to Russia.
"I don’t think about health right now, but I think about the emotions that I can bear. I’ll think about health a little later. As Scarlett O'Hara said: ‘tomorrow’. And now I’m full of adrenaline. Everything is seething in me, and I’ll honestly say that I’ve never been so nervous in recent weeks," Vyshinsky told reporters.
He noted that in prison "days turn into days between court hearings, everything around is gray, the same."
In addition, Vyshinsky thanked his colleagues for their support. “I felt [like I was] in a Greek phalanx or in the ranks, when I saw these signatures, I felt that there are people nearby who remember me, not only remember but who care for me. Not because I'm Kirill Vyshinsky, but because I'm the journalist Kirill Vyshinsky," he added.
Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of Rossiya Segodnya news agency, described Vyshinsky’s return as the first truly positive moment in Russia-Ukraine relations since 2014.
"This gives a cautious, tiniest, but still hope that maybe with this [Ukrainian] government we will get somewhere, we will unlikely reach friendship, but at least the war will end," Simonyan told reporters.
Vyshinsky's trial has been criticised by Russian authorities with President Vladimir Putin calling the journalist's arrest unprecedented and noting that the journalist was arrested while performing his professional duties.
Plane With People Released Under Ukraine-Russia Deal Lands in Kiev
An airplane supposedly carrying people who flew out of Moscow under the Russia-Ukraine release deal landed on Saturday in the Ukrainian capital's Boryspil airport, media reported.
The passengers were met by relatives and close friends and are broadcast by Ukrainian TV channels.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrived at Borispol airport to meet the plane, according to the Strana.ua outlet.
Russia and Ukraine began work on the simultaneous release of detained and convicted persons in the end of the summer. Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the Eastern Economic Forum that the issue would be settled in the near future.
On Friday, Ukrainian lawyer Valentin Rybin said on Facebook that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had pardoned people, whose simultaneous release was discussed by Kiev and Moscow. According to the lawyer, they were being brought to the agreed place for release.