Nadiya Savchenko returns home - media

Nadiya Savchenko returns home - mediaNadia Savchenko, the Ukrainian helicopter pilot controversially jailed in Russia, has been released in a prisoner exchange that may bring fresh diplomatic impetus to ending the war in east Ukraine.

Savchenko, 35, was exchanged for Alexander Alexandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeev, two members of the Russian special forces, in a hurried swap on the tarmac of Rostov on Don airport, in southern Russia, on Tuesday afternoon.

The helicopter pilot and army officer was on board a plane back to Ukraine by early afternoon, a source close to the exchange said.

The exchange follows a two-year diplomatic impasse during which Petro Poroshenko, the Ukrainian president, accused Vladimir Putin of using Savchenko as a hostage to exert pressure on Kiev over the war in east Ukraine.

The Normandy four leaders agreed on the exchange of Savchenko during the negotiations last night. It is reported by "Kommersant", citing its own sources.

"Final agreement on the exchange of Nadiya Savchenko for Evgeniy Yerofeev and Alexander Alexandrov was reached during yesterday's night telephone conversation during Ukraine peace talks, which was attended by the presidents of Russia, Ukraine, France and German Chancellor", - reads the report.

Alexander Alexandrov’s lawyer Valentin Rybin confirmed that the plane with the Russian militant left Ukraine. "At this point, I can confirm the information only about my client Alexander Alexandrov and client of my colleagues Evgeniy Yerofeev, having left the territory of Ukraine. I cannot say whether they were exchanged for Nadiya Savchenko. As a lawyer, I can say that it is most likely the result of a president’s procedure of pardon", - he said on the TV channel "112 Ukraine .

When asked whether the pardon is signed, the lawyer replied: "Yes, otherwise the citizens of the Russian Federation would not be able to leave the territory of Ukraine."
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