The exchange of detainees between Russia and Ukraine will be large-scale, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin stated at the Economic Forum in Vladivostok.
“It was difficult to make decisions about specific people, but we are reaching the final. The exchange of detainees between Russia and Ukraine will be large-scale, it is a good step toward normalization of relations,” Putin said.
The potential exchange has been in the public eye for a couple of weeks. On August 21, Russia's Interfax news agency reported, citing its own sources, that five Ukrainian political prisoners had been transported to Lefortovo prison in Moscow and are being prepared for the extradition to Ukraine.
On August 22, Russian RBC agency, citing sources, reported that Russia and Ukraine had agreed to exchange detainees with the "33-for-33" formula.
On September 2, packages for 24 Ukrainian sailors and eight political prisoners were received at the Lefortovo pre-trial detention center.
The reason why the exchange didn’t happen yet might be Volodymyr Tsemakh, a key suspect in MH17 downing, who had been held in remand prison in Kyiv up until today, September 5, when the Kyiv Court of Appeal ruled to release Tsemakh from custody on personal recognizance.
READ MORE: Kyiv Court of Appeal Releases MH17 Suspect