"Left behind:" Russian soldiers jailed in Ukraine get no response from Putin to swap request
The Russians that are convicted in Ukraine for participating in the war in Donbas are asking that they be swapped for Ukrainian prisoners kept in Russia and have written letters with relevant requests to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta published three such letters from the Russian servicemen who are now serving their sentences in Ukrainian prisons.
"I, Sergey G. Yegorov, <...> born in Sverdlovsk Oblast, the Russian Federation <...> was captured by the Armed Forces of Ukraine at night on April 14, 2017 <...> I am charged with being a shooter of the Armed Forces of the 'DPR' [' Donetsk People's Republic'], a member of the 5th SMRB [separate motor rifle battalion] of the 1st company of the 2nd platoon of the 2nd unit. I am indeed a volunteer; I arrived to fulfill my patriotic duty," one of the letters says.
All the three detainees said in their letters that during their term in prison their health had deteriorated, as there was no necessary medical assistance.
All these letters end with the same request. "Based on the abovementioned, I ask you, Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin], to help, assist in resolving the issue of my extradition to the Russian Federation or organize and implement a possible swap of hostages and prisoners of war who are Russian citizens for political prisoners, captured citizens of Ukraine who are in Russian prisons," the letters say. "Please take all necessary measures to bring us, citizens of the Russian Federation, who are in prisons of Ukraine, back home."
In total, such petitions to the President of Russia were submitted by twenty-one male citizens and one female citizen of the Russian Federation who are now in prison colonies and pretrial detention centers of Ukraine on charges of participation in the war in Donbas.
The Russian newspaper says that the letters were written back in August 2018 and immediately handed over to the Russian side through diplomatic channels, but no reaction followed.
"Russia has not responded to the petitions, no one has got interested in the future of their fellow men – neither consuls have visited them, nor parcels or letters have been sent to them. Nobody has contacted their relatives. Russia continues playing the they-are-not-there game at all levels," Novaya Gazeta said.
According to the newspaper, Ukraine has contacted Russia 13 times, proposing an exchange of Russian citizens for Ukrainians jailed in Russia.
The latest attempt was made the other day, when Deputy Speaker of Ukraine's Parliament Iryna Gerashchenko listed their names at a PACE meeting, adding: "Take yours, give ours back!"