Russia and the United States continue negotiations on the exchange of prisoners, during which the names of opposition figures convicted in Russia, including Alexei Navalny, are among the candidates for exchange. This is stated in the article of the Wall Street Journal, the journalists refer to a number of officials from Western countries who wished to remain anonymous.
First of all, as stated in the article, Moscow insists on the release of Vadym Krasykov, presumably an employee of the Russian special services, convicted in Germany of the murder of the former field commander of the Chechen separatists, Zelimkhan Khangoshvyla. US citizens Paul Whelan, convicted in Russia on charges of espionage, and Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Hershkovich, who has been in a Moscow pretrial detention center since spring on the same charges, are reportedly being heard at the talks.
However, a more complex exchange scheme is not excluded, in which Russian oppositionists recognized as political prisoners, such as Alexey Navalny, will be included in the list. He was recently sentenced to 19 years in a special regime colony.
As stated in the article, Vladimir Putin personally gave the order to seek the release of Krasykov. Secretary of the Security Council Nikolay Patrushev deals with this issue. Unlike Victor Booth, who was in prison in the United States and was exchanged for basketball player Brittney Greiner, convicted in Russia, Krasykov, however, is outside American jurisdiction, he is in prison in Germany. This creates additional difficulties in the negotiations.
In July, The New York Times reported that the United States and Russia were negotiating the exchange of prisoners, including Evan Hershkovich. This was confirmed by US President Joe Biden. The Wall Street Journal reports for the first time about the possible inclusion in the lists for the exchange of Russian oppositionists, and not only US citizens. There is no reaction from Moscow to the publication yet.
Krasykov, who used documents in the name of Vadym Sokolov, was convicted in Berlin in December 2021. The court established that the Russian acted at the behest of Moscow and called the murder of Khangoshvila in Berlin in 2019 an act of state terrorism. According to journalistic investigations, Krasykov may be a veteran of the Vympel special unit and a senior FSB officer. Moscow denies involvement in Khangoshvila’s murder.