16:58 Jun. 14, 2016
Ukrainians swapped for two individuals involved in the Odesa tragedy in May 2014
UDATE: The plane with Hennadiy Afanasyev and Yuriy Soloshenko on board landed in Ukraine's capital, at the Boryspil airport, in a special zone.
Both Ukrainians were sent to hospital.
UPDATE: Hennadiy Afanasyev and Yuriy Soloshenko, who were illegally sentenced and imprisoned in Russia, were exchanged for two pro-Russian supporters Olena Hlyschynska and Valeriy Didenko involved in the tragic events that occurred in Odesa on May 2, 2014.
"Now I can say that our citizens were swapped for two (Russian) individuals related to the events in Odesa", said Yuri Tandit, head of Ukraine's Security Service.
Hlyschynska, a citizen of Ukraine, is accused of preparing and announcing the autonomy for Bessarabia. Didenko is a pro-Russian journalist from Odesa who was charged with separatism and reation of 'Bessarabia People's Council'.
President @poroshenko will meet newly-freed Ukrainians Soloshenko & Afanasyev at 5pm in Kiev, following their arriving in the capital.— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) June 14, 2016
UPDATE: The Ukrainian plane AN-26 with Hennadiy Afanasyev and Yuriy Soloshenko aboard took off from the Moscow airport Vnukovo-2, the prisoner exchange was complete. Ukrainian prisoners were met by Ukrainian President's press secretary Svyatoslav Tseholko and Deputy Speaker Iryna Herashchenko.
"Yuriy Soloshenko and Hennadiy Afanasyev are on board the Ukrainian plane, departing from Moscow for Ukraine," Ukraine's President Poroshenko wrote on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon, June 14.
Нарешті! Юрій Солошенко і Геннадій Афанасьєв уже на борту українського літака і вилітають з Москви до України. pic.twitter.com/2KFRe0s4tH— Петро Порошенко (@poroshenko) June 14, 2016
"Finally, we are on the Ukrainian soil", were the first words Soloshenko and Afanasyev uttered once they embarked the Ukrainian plane.
UPDATE: The plane with Ukraine's National Guard servicemen aboard is on its way to the Moscow Vnukovo-2 airport. Ukrainian servicemen will take home Ukrainian political prisoners Yuriy Soloshenko and Hennadiy Afanasyev who were illegally sentenced and imprisoned in Russia.
"Ukraine's National Guard plane has already departed. It is expected to land in the Moscow suburban airport Vnukovo-2 any minute now. The plane will take Soloshenko and Afanasyev back to Ukraine," the source said.
According to him, Ukraine's representatives already arrived at the airport. He said that a prisoner swap is held secret. Afanasiev's mother Olga came to Kyiv to meet her son.
STORY: Ukrainian political prisoners Yuriy Soloshenko and Hennadiy Afanasyev, who were sentenced in Russia, may be swapped on Tuesday, June 14, according to Ukrainian newspaper Zerkalo Nedeli, which cites a source in the Presidential Administration of Ukraine.
According to the source, it is not known exactly whom Ukraine will extradite to Russia in exchange. But one of the persons involved in the swap is said to be a woman from Odesa. Most likely, it concerns the individuals who are charged as part of the case of the May 2, 2014 events in Odesa.
The exchange is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, June 14. But the source said that the period could be shifted. The scheme will be the same as during the swap of Nadiya Savchenko for Russian GRU officers, when Savchenko and Russian soldiers were simultaneously brought home by plane.
BACKGROUND: Hennadiy Afanasyev, a 25-year-old lawyer and photographer, was arrested in May 2014 in Crimea together with Oleh Senstov and two others. He was sentenced by the Russian court to seven years in a penal colony after being convicted of conspiring to commit terrorism in Russia.
Despite worsening health he is being denied medical care, according to the lawyers and human rights advocates.
Another Ukrainian citizen, 73-year-old Yuriy Soloshenko who is the former director of Ukraine's Poltava-based Znamya defense plant, was accused of purchasing goods for constructing anti-aircraft warfare for the Ukrainian army and sentenced in Russia to six years in high-security prison.
Soloshenko has an oncology disease and relatives say it can happen that he will not live to see the extradition.
Reporting by UNIAN