Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov hugs his daughter Alina Sentsova after landing in Kyiv. Photograph: Sergei Supinsky/ AFP/ Getty
Stef Blok, the Dutch foreign minister, expressed disappointment over the decision to free Tsemakh. Of the 298 passengers killed when MH1 7 was shot down, 196 were Dutch citizens. The Netherlands later confirmed that it will seek Tesmakh's extradition.
Tatiana Moskalkova, Russia's human rights commissioner, said Russia would make Tsemakh available to international researchers.” He can either give evidence by video or travel to national courts to testify and then return to Russia ,” she said.
Zelenskiy said Tsemakh had been questioned by members of the joint investigative team into the downing of MH17 at the request of unnamed western leaders.” We did everything they asked of us ,” he said.” It was hard … I was afraid that the prisoner exchange deal could collapse over this .”
Ivan Bakanov, the head of Ukraine's SBU state security service, said Russia had threatened to walk away from talks on the exchange of prisoners if Kyiv refused to hand over Tsemakh.
” Moscow's demand to include Tsemakh in the list[ of prisoners to be freed] is more evidence of its involvement in the downing of MH17 ,” Bakanov said.
The Netherlands is expected to file a formal request for Russia to hand over Tsemakh. Although Russian law forbids it from extraditing its citizens, the law does not cover non-nationals.
” As of this moment, Russia is harboring a suspect in the murder of 298 civilians ,” Christo Grozev, a member of the Bellingcat investigative journalism website that tracked the movements of the Buk missile from Russia to Ukraine, posted on Twitter.
Ukraine also freed Kyrylo Vyshynsky, a Ukrainian-born journalist who previously worked for Russia's state-run Ria Novosti news agency in Kyiv. Vyshynsky was charged with treason by Ukraine, but was released on bail last month. Vyshynsky said he intended to return to Kyiv to” prove his innocence “.
Maksim Odintsov and Alexander Baranov, two former Ukrainian servicemen that Ukraine says defected to Russia during the Kremlin's annexation of Crimea, were also released by Ukraine.
Sentsov urged Zelensky to work towards bringing home dozens of other Ukrainians in Russian incarcerates, including Crimean Tartars arrested by Russia after its annexation of Crimea. Russia is still illegally holding over 100 Ukrainians, according to Kyiv.