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Ukrainian Man Released From Russian Prison In 2016 Dies At 75

Yuriy Soloshenko (left),and Hennadiy Afanasyev (right) were released by Moscow as part of a prisoner exchange with Ukraine in 2016.

A Ukrainian man who was freed from a Russian prison and returned home in a high-profile prisoner exchange in 2016 has died at the age of 75.

Yuriy Soloshenko died on April 4, deputy parliament speaker Iryna Herashchenko wrote on Facebook.

According to Herashchenko, Soloshenko had been diagnosed with cancer several years ago.

Despite his age and illness, Soloshenko "endured imprisonment with dignity," Hennadiy Afanasyev, who was released from Russian custody along with Soloshenko in June 2016, wrote on Facebook.

Afanasyev called Soloshenko "our hero" and "my grandpa."

A former electronics plant chief, Soloshenko was arrested by Russian authorities in Moscow in August 2014 and accused of trying to buy restricted components for the S-300 air-defense missile system. He was sentenced to six years in prison in October 2015.

Afanasyev is a Crimean photographer who was arrested months after Russia seized control of the peninsula and sentenced to seven years in prison after being convicted of plotting a terrorist act against the Russian-imposed authorities.

Soloshenko and Afanasyev were exchanged for two people -- also Ukrainians -- who were in Ukrainian custody on charges related to their alleged support for Russia-backed separatists.

Their release was seen as an attempt by Moscow to erode support in the West for the continuation of sanctions imposed on Russia in response to its takeover of Crimea and its support for the separatists in a conflict that has killed more than 10,300 people in eastern Ukraine since April 2014.

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