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Russia, Ukraine begin prisoners exchange

Reuters Photo

Russia and Ukraine on Saturday started to exchange of prisoners.

A total of 24 Ukrainian sailors, who were detained during an incident near the Sea of Azov last November, were among the released by Russia.

In return, Ukraine released the editor-in-chief of the Ukrainian branch of the Russian state-run news agency RIA, Kirill Vyshinsky, who is expected to come to Moscow with the other Russian citizens, captured in Ukraine.

On Friday, Kiev announced that it excluded Russian citizen Ruslan Gadzhiev from the exchange list, because his lawyers did not submit a petition for mercy to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

After winning the presidential election, Zelensky moved the issue of exchange between the two countries from the dead center.

He initiated a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin and then instructed the relevant body authorities to mull the transfer.

Both countries have been at loggerheads since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea after a controversial referendum.

Turkey, as well as the UN General Assembly, viewed the annexation as illegal.

Ukraine has also blamed Kremlin for separatist violence in eastern Ukraine, near the border with Russia.

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