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Russia to Only Allow Savchenko Deal if Prison Sentence Upheld

Ukrainian army pilot Nadezhda Savchenko

Russia will only provide extradition documents for Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko if her prison sentence is upheld, the Slon.ru news website reported Wednesday.

“If the Ukrainian Justice Ministry guarantees the Russian court sentence will be carried out, a decision will be made to transfer Savchenko to Ukraine,” the Federal Penitentiary Service (FPS) said in a statement Wednesday.

Savchenko was sentenced to serve 22 years in jail after being found guilty of involvement in the deaths of Russian journalists in Ukraine. Her sentence was widely condemned by Western leaders and human rights organizations. An agreement that would see her returned to her native Ukraine was reached on April 29, 2016, Slon.ru reported.

It was revealed that Savchenko could receive a reduced sentence of 18 years in exchange for imprisoned Russian citizens Alexander Alexandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev. Both men were arrested in eastern Ukraine on terrorism charges in 2015 and sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Savchenko's lawyers stressed that the exchange would be impossible as neither Russia nor Ukraine formally recognize the convicted soldiers as prisoners of war, Slon reported.

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