September 2019
12:08 PM IST
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Sourabh wins Vietnam Open Super 100 title        England close in on Ashes-levelling win after Broad double        Air India posts Rs 4,600 cr operating loss in 2018-19; aims operating profit this fiscal        SBI to move RBI to offer fixed-floating rate home-loans: Chairman        Hong Kong returns to violence with tear gas and Molotovs        36 people missing after boat sinks in Congo river: DRC police        Underfire PM calls up Hulk, claims 'huge' Brexit progress        Dearth of quality people in north India: Labour minister on unemployment        Will implement NRC in Haryana, says Khattar        One nation-one language will never be a reality: Jairam Ramesh        21 Indians killed in 2,050 ceasefire violations by Pak this year: MEA        We need to take advantage of India's inexperienced pace attack: Klusener        India's contrasting training camps at World Championships        Inflation under control, clear signs of revival in factory output: FM        China to lift punitive tariffs on US soybeans, pork        Former PM Cameron 'sorry' for Brexit divisions        Pakistani cleric Tahirul Qadri quits politics, resigns from party        Afghan government says elections first, peace deal after        My govt committed to the welfare of peasants & also to promote industry: Mamata        Amend Constitution to ensure use of Indian languages in SC, high courts: Paswan        
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International News
Russia, Ukraine swapping prisoners in landmark exchange
Kiev: A long-awaited swap of prisoners between Russia and Ukraine was underway on Saturday, sources and state media said, with 70 people involved in the landmark exchange.

A Ukrainian government source told AFP the swap was proceeding and that 35 people on each side would be exchanged.

A number of high-profile prisoners are expected to be part of the exchange.

Earlier Saturday an AFP journalist in Moscow saw two buses with tinted windows leaving the high-security Lefortovo jail escorted by a police convoy.

Russia's state-run news channel Rossiya 24 said the convoy had departed "within the framework of preparations for a prisoner exchange".

The channel said the buses had arrived at Moscow's Vnukovo terminal for government flights, and that a Russian government plane had landed at Kiev's Boryspil airport.

Anticipation has been building in recent days for the swap, which would be the first major exchange of prisoners between Russia and Ukraine since the conflict over eastern Ukraine erupted in 2014.

It could be a crucial step in easing tensions between the ex-Soviet neighbours over Russia's annexation of Crimea and the war with Moscow-backed separatists that has left more than 13,000 dead.

The head of the defence team for 24 Ukrainian sailors captured by Russia last year told AFP they would be part of the swap.

"According to my information, they were put on a bus. All 24 of them," Nikolai Polozov said, adding that he expected them to arrive in Ukraine "in the next few hours".

Moscow has been holding the sailors since seizing three vessels last November in the most dangerous direct clash between Russia and Ukraine in years.

Among other prisoners who could be released by Russia is film director and activist Oleg Sentsov, 43, who has become Ukraine's most famous political prisoner.

He was arrested in 2014 and has been serving a 20-year sentence in a Arctic penal colony for planning "terrorist attacks" in Crimea.

Reports emerged last week that Sentsov had been moved to Moscow.

Ukraine could hand over Kyrylo Vyshynsky, a journalist at Russia's RIA Novosti state news agency who was released on bail late last month pending a trial for "high treason".

A Ukrainian court this week also released from detention a man investigators have described as a key witness in the downing of flight MH17.

The release of Vladimir Tsemakh, an alleged air defence specialist for pro-Russian separatists, prompted concern from the Netherlands that he may avoid questioning.

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the "large-scale" prisoner exchange with Ukraine was being finalised and that the swap would be "a huge step towards normalising relations" with Kiev.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky raised the prospect of a prisoner swap after sweeping to power in an election in April.

The comedian-turned-politician, whose defeat of incumbent Petro Poroshenko shocked Ukraine's political elite, had vowed during the campaign to bring Ukrainian prisoners home.

His election has revived peace efforts and Paris has called for a summit of the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France to be held later this month.

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