19:37 GMT +312 December 2019
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    People walk past Soviet era statues at the Green Bridge over the Neris river in Vilnius, Lithuania, Monday, July 13, 2015

    Lithuanian President Pardons 2 Russian Citizens Convicted of Spying

    © AP Photo / Mindaugas Kulbis
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has pardoned two Russian citizens, Nikolai Filipchenko and Sergey Moiseenko, who had been convicted on espionage charges, the president's office said on Friday.

    "Nikolai Filipchenko has been pardoned from serving the rest of his term in accordance to Article 79 (2) of Lituania's penal code.... Sergey Moiseenko has been pardoned from serving the rest of his term", the office said in a statement.

    According to Head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service Sergei Naryshkin, Moscow will respond in kind, however, he didn't elaborate.

    Later in the day, Lithuania stated that it swapped the two Russian citizens for two Lithuanian and one Norwegian national. At the same time, Oslo confirmed that Norwegian citizen Frode Berg, convicted in Russia for espionage, had been released and handed to Norwegian authorities in Lithuania.

    On Wednesday, Lithuanian media reported that the country's Pardon Commission would issue its recommendations for the president to pardon certain prisoners without revealing who those were. The commission considered 123 pardon pleas.

    Russian security official Nikolai Filipchenko stands inside Vilnius' Regional Court in Vilnius on July 7, 2017
    © AFP 2019 / PETRAS MALUKAS
    Russian security official Nikolai Filipchenko stands inside Vilnius' Regional Court in Vilnius on July 7, 2017

    Both Russians were sentenced to prison terms in 2017, facing 10 and 10.5 years of jail time, respectively. However, in October Moscow and Vilnius reportedly managed to agree to an exchange. According to media outlets, Russia was ready to release two Lithuanian nationals, sentenced for espionage in Russia in 2016 in exchange for Filipchenko, however, Russian authorities refused to confirm this information.

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    spies, espionage case, espionage, Lithuania, Russia
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