MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia has transferred jailed Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov from a remote Arctic prison to custody in Moscow amid talks with Kiev on a possible prisoner swap, news agencies TASS and Interfax cited unnamed sources as saying on Thursday.
A native of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula who opposed the region’s annexation by Russia in 2014, Sentsov says his original conviction was politically motivated. He was jailed in 2015 on terrorism charges that he denied.
The reports came a day after a court in Ukraine ordered the release on bail of Russian journalist Kirill Vyshinsky, who was arrested last year and accused of supporting pro-Russian separatists, charges that could see him jailed for 15 years.
Commenting on the reports of Sentsov’s transfer, Viktor Medvedchuk, a close Kremlin ally, said talks on a prisoner swap between Ukraine and Russia were still underway, but that no date had been set for an exchange, RIA news agency reported.
Medvedchuk, 64, the main face of Ukraine’s Russia-friendly opposition, also said that no final decision had been made on whether such an exchange would include Sentsov.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said last month that Kiev could release Vyshinsky if Moscow freed Sentsov.
There was no immediate comment from Russia’s national prison service on Thursday’s reports.
Reporting by Maxim Rodionov; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Mark Heinrich