Russia denies report on prisoner swap with West involving Navalny

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Russia on Wednesday dismissed a report by US media on a possible prisoner swap between Moscow and Western countries involving imprisoned dissidents like Alexei Navalny, calling it “speculation.”

The Wall Street Journal, quoting unnamed Western officials, reported it was possible there could be a “multilateral deal” to swap Russians detained in Western countries and Westerners held in Russia, as well as jailed dissidents like Navalny.

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“The Wall Street Journal’s information of including Navalny in swap for prisoners in the US is speculation,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Russian state media.

Navalny, who has challenged President Vladimir Putin’s rule for years, is serving a 19-year prison sentence in a notorious facility outside Moscow.

The US paper alleged that Moscow is interested in swapping Vadim Krasikov, a man Germany convicted of killing a Chechen insurgent leader Zemlikhan Khangoshvili in a central Berlin park in 2019.

Berlin ruled that Krasikov worked for Russian security services, while Moscow has insisted he is innocent.

The paper alleged that Moscow has brought his case up in prisoner-swap negotiations and that it is key in US efforts to release Americans held in Russia such as Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and former marine Paul Whelan.

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