Ukrainian and Russian officials are working out the final details of a major prisoner swap involving dozens of prisoners, including Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov and 24 Ukrainian sailors captured by Russian forces near the Kerch Strait late last year. The office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a statement Friday blasting preliminary reports surrounding the prisoner swap, which were sparked by a Ukrainian lawmaker and Ukraine’s new prosecutor general claiming on social media that the prisoner swap was already complete and those released were on their way home. “It is not the first time we have seen such information chaos caused by some reference to unconfirmed information and multiple ‘sources,’” Zelensky’s office said in a statement. “When this reciprocal release of detained persons is completed, the Office of the President will announce that via official channels.”
Ukrainian lawmaker Anna Islamova had taken to Facebook early Friday local time to announce that the prisoner swap was “complete” and Sentsov freed. Ruslan Ryaboshapka, Ukraine’s newly sworn in prosecutor general, appeared to confirm that news by reposting Islamova’s announcement. Sentsov, who was taken from his home in Crimea’s capital of Simferopol by agents of Russia’s Federal Security Service shortly after Russia seized the territory in May 2014, was sentenced to 20 years in a Russian prison in what was largely seen as a show trial in 2015. He has been seen as a symbol of resistance against Russia’s occupation of Ukraine. Amnesty International, Pussy Riot, and actor Johnny Depp were among those to take part in campaigns calling for his release.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the Ukrainian president’s clarification that filmmaker Oleg Sentsov has not yet been freed, despite an announcement to that effect from some Ukrainian officials.