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7 Sep, 2019 13:07

Jailed Russian journalist Kirill Vyshinsky freed in seismic detainee exchange with Kiev

Jailed Russian journalist Kirill Vyshinsky freed in seismic detainee exchange with Kiev

Journalist Kirill Vyshinsky is among the freed Russian prisoners who landed safely in Moscow following a detainee swap with Ukraine on Saturday. The RIA Novosti editor had been held for 15 months.

Vyshinsky, chief of the RIA Novosti Ukraine news agency, was arrested in Kiev in May 2018 on charges of high treason for being involved in a “hybrid information war” against Ukraine. 

He was accused of treason for allegedly backing anti-government forces in Donetsk and Lugansk (DPR and LPR) in the east of Ukraine, a charge which he denied, pointing out that he had covered both sides of the conflict. 

Vyshinsky had long said his arrest was purely political, even telling Ruptly that he thought he was being kept behind bars to be used for blackmail “with the possibility to put me up for an exchange.”

Also on rt.com Kiev never wanted real trial, just to use me for blackmail – detained Russian journalist Vyshinsky

The journalist’s arrest garnered international attention, with the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) expressing“serious concern” and urging Ukraine “to refrain from imposing unnecessary limitations on the work of foreign journalists,” while the Committee to Protect Journalists called on the Ukrainian authorities to “stop harassing and obstructing Russian media operating in Ukraine,” and said that the “criminalization of alternative news and views has no place in a democratic Ukraine."

His trial began in April when an indictment was read out accusing him of charges including separatism, state treason, inciting national enmity and unlawful handling of weapons. Prosecutors listed text examples from the RIA Novosti Ukraine website which it said were “anti-Ukrainian.” 

Vyshinsky denied these claims, saying they were a “groundless accusation” and “just a lie.”

The editor told Ruptly in June that his trial was “an embarrassment for the country. It is ridiculous to prosecute a journalist for doing his job, with having political goals in mind.” 

He was released from prison pending trial on August 28, 2019. 

Also on rt.com ‘Historical humanitarian action’: Prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine completed

The Ukrainian-born Vyshinsky had a Russian passport and, after his arrest, told a court he was withdrawing his Ukrainian citizenship, saying: “From this moment I consider myself only a citizen of Russia.” 

Vyshinsky’s journalistic career began in Ukrainian media and, following the 2014 Euromaidan protests, he became the editor-in-chief of RIA Novosti Ukraine.

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