MOSCOW (AP) — Jailed Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko has been given forms to complete for extradition from Russia, one of her lawyers said Thursday.
Savchenko was captured by Russia-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine in 2014, and was sentenced to 22 years in prison last month for her alleged role in the deaths of two Russian journalists. Her capture and trial became a rallying point for Ukrainians at home and abroad.
The extradition procedure implies that a convict should continue serving the sentence at home, but that is unlikely in Savchenko's case because as an elected member of Ukraine's parliament she is immune from prosecution.
Savchenko's lawyer Mark Feygin told reporters in Kiev that Savchenko has been given extradition documents to complete, but he believes her transfer is still weeks away. Feygin said he got the information from Savchenko's sister who visited her and will know more when another Savchenko attorney visits her on Friday.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko earlier this month announced that he had reached a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin to exchange Savchenko for two Russian servicemen captured in Ukraine and convicted of waging a war of aggression. Russian officials have not confirmed any impending swap.
Legal procedures for the swap are unlikely to begin before May 25, Feygin said on Thursday, when the verdict for the two Russians comes into effect. They were each sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Meanwhile, Savchenko's sister Vera was stopped on Wednesday when she was about to cross border back into Ukraine. Feygin said Vera was told that she is suspected of contempt of court dating from her appearance at a trial of Ukrainian nationalists in Russia last year. The Ukrainian consul was allowed to take her to the consulate where she is currently safe, Feygin said, adding that it was unclear whether Russian authorities are seeking to question or jail her.