Ukraine preparing to exchange deserters Baranov, Odintsov for political prisoners Sentsov, Sushchenko

Ukrainian citizens Roman Sushchenko and Oleh Sentsov, who were imprisoned in Russia, could be exchanged for former Ukrainian servicemen Alexander Baranov and Maxim Odintsov who served in the Russian army and were convicted by Ukrainian courts for treason and desertion, the office of Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights Valeria Lutkovska has reported.

"Ukraine is preparing to exchange Crimean deserters Baranov and Odintsov, who were sentenced to 13 and 14 years in prison respectively in Ukraine, for political prisoners Sentsov and Sushchenko," the Ukrainian ombudsperson's office told the Priamy television channel on Friday.

As reported, former servicemen of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Baranov and Odintsov, had crossed over to serve in the Russian army in 2014. On November 20, 2016, they were detained by officers of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) near the Chonhar crossing point at the border with Crimea.

On November 22, 2016, Mykolaiv's Central District Court ordered that the two servicemen accused of desertion (Ukrainian Criminal Code Article 408, Part 1) be taken into custody as a pretrial restrictive measure. The two were also charged with high treason (Article 111, Part 1) the same day.

On February 13, 2018, Baranov and Odintsov were sentenced for treason and desertion to 13 and 14 years in prison respectively.