Kotov supported the sailors during their captivity / Photo from UNIAN

Ukrainian sailors who have recently been freed as part of a prisoner exchange between Kyiv and Moscow have raised funds for Russian political prisoner Konstantin Kotov, who helped them during their captivity in Russia.

"For many months while the sailors were held captive, Kotov helped by collecting [food] parcels for the sailors, attending their court hearings, participating in rallies in support of prisoners of war and political prisoners – Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars. In August, Kotov was detained and charged under Article 212.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, which is a repressive article invented by the Russian authorities for those who try to use their constitutional right to free assembly. For those who peacefully protest against injustice committed by the authorities. As fast as it was done by [Joseph] Stalin's troikas [three-member groups of the Soviet Commissariat of Internal Affairs, also known as NKVD, who issued sentences to suspects after a simplified investigation and without a public trial], literally within a week, Kotov was sentenced to four years' imprisonment in a penal colony. Just for not being silent," Russian lawyer Nikolay Polozov said on Facebook on September 10.

Read alsoPutin's spokesperson refuses to disclose names of those swapped for Ukrainian sailors, prisoners

After the Ukrainian sailors had been freed, they learnt that the volunteer had been imprisoned.

"Today, the freed Ukrainian sailors have raised money and asked me to pass it to Victoria Ivleva [another Russian activist and volunteer who helped the sailors in Russia], so that she would spent it on assistance and support of Russian political prisoner Konstantin Kotov. As a sign of gratitude for his support when they were in prison. I'll bring the sum worth UAH 12,400 (about US$500) and RUB 25,850 (about US$400) to Moscow and hand it over to Victoria," Polozov said.

As UNIAN reported earlier, 24 Ukrainian sailors, who were captured by Russian special forces near the Kerch Strait in November 2014, and 11 Ukrainian political prisoners were released by Russia as part of a major prisoner swap on September 7, 2019.