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Published in Stream:
Russia Update: May 25, 2016
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Russian GRU Agents Fly to Moscow; Greeted by Wives at Vnukovo Airport; Only State Press Allowed to Cover
6 years
Putin Claims Pardon of Savchenko 'Dictated by Considerations of Humanism,' But Needed GRU Agents
Col. Igor Strelkov of Donbass Infamy Denounces Exchange of Savchenko for 2 GRU Agents as 'Unequal' as They Are 'Nobodies for Russia'

Aleksandr Aleksandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, two GRU agents captured by Ukrainian forces and pardoned by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, were released today and allowed to return home in exchange for imprisoned Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko, pardoned by President Vladimir Putin, reported.

The two were met by their wives at Moscow's Vnukovo Airport when they arrived after the prisoner exchange. has a live broadcast from the airport and liveblog on the exchange here.

Putin praised the relatives of the journalists killed for whom Russia continued to blame Savchenko.

Translation: Putin to the relatives of the journalists killed: Your act could avoid such terrible and needless losses.

Pavel Kanygin, a journalist from Novaya Gazeta who published a lengthy interview with Aleksandrov last year, said that only state journalists were allowed into the airport to see the released prisoners:

I don't know what went on in Borispol. But here in our country, only Russia Today, Channel One and NTV were allowed in to a special terminal at Vnukovo  to the meeting with returness Yerofeyev and Aleksandrov. And they didn't allow them to ask questions, but only to make silent footage.

Only the two wives of the GRU agents were allowed to meet them, other relatives had to remain behind a cordon.

Translation: Russian citizens Yerofeyev and Aleksandrov returned to the motherland.

RT did not admit that the two prisoners released were GRU agents, although the men themselves testified to this. RT described them as "supposedly Russian military" and repeated the official version of the Russian Defense Ministry about their case: that they were merely "citizens of Russia" who were "not military on active duty in the Russian Federation Armed Forces." Aleksandrov, however, reported to Kanygin that they were on active duty at the time of their capture. 

'I Was on Active Duty': Interview with Captured GRU Officer Aleksandrov

Pavel Kanygin, a war correspondent for Novaya Gazeta, was arrested by Russian-backed separatist forces on June 16, beaten and interrogated, and then deported the next day back to Russia. It was the second such detention he had suffered at the hands of militants from the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" in a year.

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May 25, 2016 17:46 (GMT), a relatively independent news site, included a tweet by journalist Noah Sneider to make the point about the exchanged prisoners' status.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick