In a statement released by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, Russia is willing to swap political prisoners with United States
Russia, on 2 July, called on the United States to free imprisoned Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko and proposed a potential prisoner swap with Washington.
According to latest reports by Interfax news agency, Russian Government is ready to release American nationals held in Russian prisons on security grounds.
The proposed prison swap has fueled speculations that Moscow is seeking a prisoner exchange involving Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine arrested and held in Russia on spying charges. Whelan has consistently denied the charges, and has likened them to a political kidnap.
Russia is urging United States to release Konstantin Yaroshenko in return for US citizens serving spying charges.
Konstantin Yaroshenko, the center of the proposal, is a Russian pilot serving 20 years in the United States. He was held for charges of conspiracy to allegedly smuggle cocaine into the country. Arrested by U.S. Special Forces in Liberia in 2010, he was later declared guilty by the US Federal Court.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov; in an interview given to Interfax was quoted as saying, “Free Yaroshenko, swap him for an American or Americans who are serving their sentence here.”
Mr Ryabkov also urged the United States to return confiscated Russian diplomatic properties, as an endeavor to mend the troubled bilateral relations between Russia and United States.
This statement from Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov has come after US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met on the sidelines of the G20 Summit 2019, held in Osaka (Japan).