Russian servicemen Odintsov and Baranov to be pardoned in Ukraine - lawyer

Russian citizens Maxim Odintsov and Alexander Baranov, who are expected to be exchanged for Ukrainian citizens detained in Russia, will be formally pardoned prior to their release, their lawyer Valentyn Rybin told Interfax-Ukraine on Friday.

"That's what will happen. It's a formal procedure for a possible release," Rybin said when asked whether his clients could be pardoned.

Rybin said earlier that Odintsov and Baranov are being prepared to be exchanged for Ukrainian citizens arrested in Russia.

On February 13, 2018, former Ukrainian Armed Forces servicemen Baranov and Odintsov were convicted of high treason and were sentenced to 13 years and 14 years in prison, respectively.

Baranov and Odintsov were detained by the Ukrainian Security Service near the Chonhar checkpoint in Kherson region near the border with Crimea on November 20, 2016.

According to the Ukrainian Military Prosecutor's Office, Baranov and Odintsov betrayed their oath and defected "to the aggressor country". The two, who had served in a Crimea-based military unit, were charged with desertion and high treason for signing military service contracts with the Russian Armed Forces after the spring 2014 events.