Ukrainian Foreign Minister: Russia may agree to prisoner exchange to improve image during FIFA 2018 World Cup
During a broadcast of Channel 5, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said that he believes that Kyiv may be able to get Moscow to consent to the release of political prisoners and a hostage exchange while Russia is hosting the 2018 World Cup.
"A gesture is possible, though not a gesture of goodwill, but rather [a gesture] to improve the image of Russia during the championship. We must use the championship, but we must [also] continue to work," Klimkin stated.
At the same time, he noted that a prompt resolution of the issue of the release of Ukrainian political prisoners should not be expected.
"We perfectly understand that in the coming days and weeks Russia will not release all [of the prisoners]. And they will continue to use them [the prisoners] as a means of pressure," the Foreign Minister added.
Yesterday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called on Russia to release Ukrainian political prisoners.
Ukrainian Human Rights Commissioner Lyudmyla Denisova, who is in Russia, said that she has been refused meetings with Oleg Sentsov and Mykola Karpiuk. Tatyana Moskalkova, Russia’s Commissioner on Human Rights, said that Denisova had violated the agreement by going to Sentsov.
On June 14, the European Parliament called on Russia to immediately release all Ukrainian political prisoners who are illegally detained, arrested and imprisoned.
Ukrainian director Oleg Sentsov, who has been charged and held by Russia, announced an indefinite hunger strike on May 14 to demand the release of all Ukrainian political prisoners who are in Russian prisons. On May 31, he stated that he was "not interested in exchange" because he is "a man who goes to the end."
Activists in Ukraine and around the world continue to demand that Russia and President Vladimir Putin release illegally detained Ukrainians. Protest actions are being held in different countries and on different continents under the hashtags #FreeOlegSentsov and #SaveOlegSentsov.