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Russia Reportedly Planning To Allow Five Jailed Ukrainians To Serve Sentences At Home

Volodymyr Balukh was initially arrested in December 2016.
Volodymyr Balukh was initially arrested in December 2016.

Five Ukrainian nationals held in Russia may be handed over to Kyiv to serve the rest of their sentences at home.

Both the Interfax news agency and Kommersant reported citing sources on August 21 that negotiations were being held about extraditing the five after they were transferred recently from different prison across Russia to Moscow.

"The transfer of five convicts, who have been moved to Moscow, to Ukraine for continuing to serve the sentences pronounced by Russian courts is under consideration," Interfax quoted an unnamed source as saying.

"The format of this procedure is being discussed," the source added.

Kommersant also quoted a source as saying 24 Ukrainian sailors detained by Russian forces in November near the Kerch Strait near Russia-annexed Crimea and charged with illegal border-crossing might be transferred to Ukraine as well.

The Moscow-based Memorial human rights center said the day before that five Ukrainians held in Russia -- Volodymyr Balukh, Stanislav Klykh, Oleksandr Kolchenko, Pavlo Hryb, and Mykola Karpyuk, had been transferred from labor camps in several different regions to the Lefortovo detention center in Moscow.

The United States and European Union has called on Russia to free dozens of Ukrainian citizens who are being held in prison or experiencing other conditions of restricted freedom in Russia, Moscow-annexed Crimea, and parts of eastern Ukraine that are controlled by Russia-backed separatists.

Russia seized control of Ukraine's Crimea region in March 2014, after sending in troops and staging a referendum dismissed as illegal by at least 100 countries.

Moscow is also backing separatists in a war against Ukrainian government forces that has killed more than 10,300 people in eastern Ukraine since April 2014.

With reporting by Interfax and Kommersant
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