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.