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PM: Swap of prisoners of war may solve Savchenko’s case

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Prague, March 21 (CTK) – A swap of prisoners of war between Russia and Ukraine could be a solution to the case of Nadiya Savchenko, Ukrainian pilot whom a Russian court found guilty of illegal crossing the Russian border and the murder of two Russian journalists on Monday, Czech PM Bohuslav Sobotka has said.

He said such a swap would be in harmony with the Minsk deals.

Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Belobradek (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) said he considers the whole case propaganda.

The prosecutor demands a 23-year imprisonment for Savchenko, 34, but the sentence is only to be announced on Tuesday.

Savchenko, who insists on her innocence, went on hunger strike 18 days ago in protest against her imprisonment.

The release of Savchenko, who is viewed as a national hero in her country, has been called for by Ukraine and the West in vain.

“The Czech Republic supports the fulfilment of the Minsk agreements, we support the fulfilling of that part of them that speaks about the exchange of prisoners of war, which, I believe, could be a solution for Ms Savchenko,” Sobotka said after a government meeting.

“I consider the whole Savchenko case a propagandistic, not a criminal one. That is why I wrote to President Vladimir Putin,” Belobradek wrote on Twitter on Monday.

In his March letter, Belobradek said human rights and international law were violated in Savchenko’s case.

At a meeting of the European Council last week, Sobotka called for the EU to throw its weight behind the exchange of prisoners of war.

Sobotka said the EU will take into consideration the fulfilling of the Minsk deals when it is deciding about further anti-Russian sanctions.

Two activists from the oMen group protested on Monday against what they call Czech President Milos Zeman’s pro-Russian policy outside Prague Castle, the presidential seat.

With their protest, they also wanted to point to the continued Russian occupation of Crimea and Savchenko’s case.

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