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Kiev passes to Russia papers for exchange of Ukrainians sentenced in Russia

Ukraine has prepared and passed on to the Russian side the papers necessary to return home its citizens Yuri Soloshenko and Gennady Afanasyev, who were sentenced in Russia, Ukraine's Minister of Justice Pavel Petrenko told reporters on Saturday.

"The legal side for the exchange has been prepared and passed to the Russian side," the minister said, however refusing to give details of talks on the exchange, saying only "this information is closed, diplomatic talks continue."

The minister said he has "moderate optimism everything will be fine and they (Soloshenko and Afanasyev) will return to territory of Ukraine."

"The talks are very complicated," the justice minister said.

Earlier on Saturday, Ukraine's Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko confirmed the negotiation process was behind closed doors.

Leader of the Ukrainian Choice public organization Viktor Medvedchuk said in an interview with the Komsomolskaya Pravda in Ukraine daily on June 9 that Kiev would soon release two Russians who had been detained over the May 2014 riots in Odessa but didn't disclose their names.

Media reports earlier said that Russian citizens Yevgeny Mefedov and Maxim Sakauov were in custody over the May 2 riots in Odessa.

Ukraine's Justice Ministry turned to Russia in March with a request to transfer to Ukraine Yuri Soloshenko and Gennady Afanasyev convicted in Russia on the charges of terrorism and espionage.

In response, Russia's Justice Ministry said these issues were regulated by the 1983 Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons and the Criminal Procedure Code of Russia.

Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko said last week the swap of Soloshenko and Afanasyev could take place in June.

[Source: Itar Tass, Kiev, 11Jun16]

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