19 Jul 2019 10:23

Zelensky's Office, in response to Russia's proposal, suggests releasing Vyshinsky and Sentsov simultaneously

KYIV. July 19 (Interfax) - The Office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said in response to Russia's appeal to Ukraine to release RIA Novosti Ukraine Editor-in-Chief Kirill Vyshinsky that Russia should mirror this step and release Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov, who was convicted in Russia.

"It is with great interest that the Office of the President learned about the Russian Federation's suggestion to release Kirill Vyshinsky as the first goodwill gesture from Ukraine. We fully support the policy of goodwill gestures and suggest that Russia should also take in own step in response and release Oleh Sentsov. We propose doing so simultaneously in order to be mutually confident of our joint goodwill," Zelensky's press secretary Iuliia Mendel wrote on her Facebook page.

Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said on July 18 that Vyshinsky's release and return could become the first step toward normalizing relations between Russia and Ukraine.

Vyshinsky was detained in Kyiv on May 15, 2018. He is suspected of high treason.

Russia considers the Vyshinsky case to be politically motivated and demands his immediate release. Russian President Vladimir Putin said during his Q&A session on June 7, 2018 that Vyshinsky had been arrested for his professional activities and Russia would seek his release, "including under pressure from international organizations."

Sentsov was arrested in Crimea in 2014, and in August 2015 the North Caucasus district military court in Rostov-on-Don sentenced him to 20 years of imprisonment at a high-security facility. In Russia, Sentsov was accused of setting up a terror group in Crimea. Oleksandr Kolchenko, another defendant in this case, was given a ten-year term in a high-security penitentiary.