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The Daily Vertical: Putin's Other Hostages (Transcript)

  • Brian Whitmore

Russia may have released its most famous hostage, but it is still holding dozens more.

According to human rights groups, as many as 30 Ukrainian citizens remain in Russian prisons on what appear to be very flimsy charges.

Among them are Stanislav Klykh and Mykola Karpyuk, two Ukrainian nationalists who were sentenced yesterday to long prison sentences on dubious charges that they fought alongside Chechen separatists in the 1990s.

There are allegations that the two were tortured.

Their conviction was largely based on the testimony of one man.

And the Russian human rights group Memorial says "evidence in the case is based on slander and false testimony."

The hostage list also includes the Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov and activist Oleksandr Kolchenko, Crimea residents imprisoned on absurd terrorism charges after they openly opposed Russia's forceful and illegal annexation of the peninsula.

And then there is the 73-year-old Ukrainian pensioner Yuriy Soloshenko, who is suffering from cancer. He's serving a six-year sentence in a maximum security prison on clearly absurd spying charges.

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Numerous Crimean Tatars, including the deputy head of the Mejlis, are also incarcerated on fictitious terrorism charges.

Not surprisingly, Vladimir Putin's Ukrainian hostages were all abducted after Russia's seizure of Crimea and its intervention in the Donbas.

They're bargaining chips in a war. And the Kremlin is sure to extract as much as it can from Ukraine for each of its hostages.

When asked at his annual press conference last year about exchanges to release the Ukrainian prisoners, Putin said any exchange must be "of equal worth."

Spoken like a true kidnapper.

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