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Russia, Ukraine exchange prisoners

Russia, Ukraine exchange prisoners”

French President Emmanuel Macron announced Monday (26 August) that the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France would hold talks in September aimed at ending the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

One of the 35 freed Russians brought a black-and-white cat with him on the flight back to Moscow, released Russian journalist Kirill Vyshinsky told RIA news agency. "Congratulations to both countries!"

Hugging and shaking hands with the freed Ukrainians, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told reporters the swap was part of his deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

If completed, it would be the first prisoner exchange between Russian Federation and Ukraine since 2017.

Russian-Ukrainian journalist Kyrylo Vyshynsky, accused of treason by Ukraine, was also heading home.

The global monitors in east Ukraine, from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), also recorded dozens of explosions and episodes of small arms fire on the contact line in the two days prior to Saturday's exchange, indicating that little had changed on the ground.

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday, "Russia and Ukraine just swapped large numbers of prisoners".

A recently exchanged Ukrainian prisoner is greeted by his relatives upon arrival in Kiev after Russia-Ukraine prisoner swap, at Borispil International Airport, outside Kiev, Ukraine September 7, 2019. "I am happy for the Ukrainian sailors and Oleg Sentsov who can finally return home", she said.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy right greets Ukrainian prisoners upon their arrival at Boryspil airport outside Kyiv Ukraine Saturday Sept. 7 2019

A total of 24 Ukrainian sailors, who were detained during an incident near the Sea of Azov last November, were among the released by Russian Federation. The U.S. and European Union both had openly lobbied for his release.

"I am overflowing with happiness", Natalya Mokryak, the mother of one of the sailors, said at the airport. Amnesty World declared Sentsov to be a prisoner of conscience, the European Parliament awarded him the Sakharov Prize for freedom of opinion. "Victory is still a long way off".

At Moscow's Vnukovo airport, the released prisoners remained on the plane for about 15 minutes for unknown reasons.

Ukraine's SBU security services accused Vyshynsky of travelling to the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in 2014 to carry out "subversive" reporting and justify its annexation by Russian Federation.

Yet negotiations appeared to stall over which prisoners to include on the list.

Some, however, suspect that Russia's willingness to reach an agreement may have been related to the surprising arrest of Tsemakh by Ukraine's secret service deep inside rebel-held territory.

But Ukraine's release of Tsemakh, the Russian fighter, upset the Netherlands, which sees him as a "person of interest" in its enquiry into who shot down flight MH17, killing 298 people, including nearly 200 Dutch nationals, five years ago.

Dutch prosecutors investigating the tragedy had urged the government in Kyiv to prevent Tsmakh's extradition, saying he is "a person of interest" in their work. The 58-year-old Tsemakh, who had been remanded in custody in Kyiv on terrorism charges, was freed shortly before Saturday's major prisoner exchange.

More news: Trump Is ‘Celebrating His Own Ignorance’ on Hurricane Dorian Claims — CNN’s Stelter



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