Ukrainian citizens Gennady Afanasyev and Yuri Soloshenko have been released from Russian prison and are returning to Kiev, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko wrote on Twitter Tuesday (June 14).
“Finally! Yuri Afanasiev and Gennady Soloshenko are already on board a Ukrainian airplane and are flying from Moscow to Ukraine,” Poroshenko wrote on the social media site.
The men could be exchanged for two Russians who were detained in mass riots in Ukraine’s Odessa on May 2, 2014, the Interfax news agency reported, citing Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced an exchange has been agreed for Afanasyev and Soloshenko in late May. Their lawyers petitioned Russian President Vladimir Putin for a pardon soon after. The men did not admit their guilt as part of the process.
Afanasyev was arrested in Crimea in May 2014 and charged over alleged plan to commit terrorist attack on the peninsula.He was found guilty by Moscow City Court last year. Soloshenko, a 73-year old former defense factory head, received a six year prison sentence last year on espionage charges.
The return of Soloshenko and Afanasyev comes three weeks after the long-awaited exchange of Ukraine’s Nadiya Savchenko for two Russian soldiers, Yevgeny Yerofeyev and Alexander Alexandrov.