Rumours of Russia-Ukraine exchange of prisoners

A court in Kiev has rule that Kirill Vyshinsky, editor-in-chief of the Russian news agency Ria Novosti, is to be released after 15 months in custody. The ruling is being widely interpreted as a sign of an imminent exchange of prisoners which Russia and Ukraine have been negotiating for some time. The media of the two countries, however, remain sceptical.

Open/close all quotes
Ekho Moskvy (RU) /

Putin always has a few hostages handy

Author Victor Shenderovich accuses Putin of implementing a cynical strategy in an interview broadcast on Echo of Moscow:

“Putin keeps a ready supply of hostages for when things get difficult. As soon as he wants something from the West he brings them out: this was what happened when Khodorkovsky and Pussy Riot were released shortly before the Olympic Games [in Sochi in 2014]. There was the danger of a boycott - then all of a sudden 'Khodor' and the girls were free. And everyone came to the games. When no one wanted to talk to him anymore because of Ukraine, hey presto: Syria. Talk to me! ... We all wondered why the official West said nothing about the police brutality on Moscow's streets. ... It's because the prospect of this exchange has made the West sew its mouth shut.”

Obosrewatel (UA) /

Traitors in exchange for political prisoners

Obozrevatel has a problem with the choice of prisoners to be exchanged:

“The list contains former Ukrainian soldiers who defected to the Russian side. ... The former Ukrainian soldier Oleksandr Baranov, for example, was sentenced to 13 years in prison in Crimea for high treason and desertion during the annexation of the peninsula. Maxim Odintsov, also a former Ukrainian officer, was sentenced to 14 years for similar crimes. Also on the list is the ex-Berkutt officer Alexander Sattarov, who is on trial in Kiev for participation in the so-called 'self-defence' of Crimea. ... Traitors to Ukraine are to be exchanged for Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia.”

Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

No blueprint for this

Radio Kommersant FM sees many obstacles on the path to the big exchange of prisoners:

“Now a goodwill gesture from Moscow would be the next logical step. However, up to now there are all kinds of variables, primarily of a bureaucratic nature. ... What should be done with the Ukrainian sailors, for example? On the basis of which law can they be returned to Kiev? After all there are no precedents for such an exchange. ... And then there are the politicians: some hack away at Zelensky's position, others don't want the war to end. ... And how do you explain these goings-on to the Russian people? The propaganda would need to be readjusted, because for many years the talk was of war but now all of a sudden there's peace, or at least the prospect of it. ”