Ukraine court orders release of Russia journalist

Kiev, Aug 28 (AFP/APP):A Ukrainian court on Wednesday ordered the release of a journalist working for Russian state media pending a trial for “high treason”, his lawyer told AFP.

Kyrylo Vyshynsky, a journalist at Russia’s RIA Novosti state news agency, has been in custody for 15 months and his release on bail comes as Moscow and Kiev discuss a possible prisoner swap.

Last month Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky offered exchanging Vyshynsky for Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov, who is behind bars in a Russian Arctic penal colony.

Ukraine’s SBU security service raided the Kiev offices of RIA Novosti last year, saying the agency and its journalists had been “used as tools in a hybrid war against Ukraine”.

Vyshynsky, a Ukrainian national who received a Russian passport in 2015, was detained near his house in Kiev and accused of treason, a crime with a 15-year potential sentence.

The SBU accused Vyshynsky of travelling to Crimea in 2014 to carry out “subversive” reporting to justify the peninsula’s annexation by Russia.

The 52-year-old was also accused of collaborating with Russian-backed separatist groups in eastern Ukraine.

A conflict that broke out in the region following Russia’s annexation of Crimea has cost some 13,000 lives and poisoned relations between Kiev and Moscow.

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