Human rights activists suggest trading former Moscow City Council member and war critic Alexey Gorinov for ‘Putin regime accomplices’ imprisoned in the EU
Activists associated with the Sakharkovskoye Dvizheniye (Sakharov Movement, whose participants are interested in the legacy of Soviet nuclear physicist and peace activist Andrei Sakharov) suggested to members of the European Parliament that they should organize a prisoner exchange, trading Alexey Gorinov for “one or more of the accomplices of the Putin regime who are detained in the West.” Gorinov, a former Moscow city council member who opposed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is currently serving a seven-year prison term for spreading “false information” about the Russian army.
The activists’ appeal says that Russia has imprisoned 529 people whom the human rights organization Memorial classifies as political prisoners. Choosing from among these prisoners is “obviously unfair,” say they activists, but they nevertheless urged European Parliament members to focus on Gorinov because of the state of his health.
“He developed chronic bronchitis. In 2016, he had an operation and lost a lung. Now we’re afraid he won’t get out of prison alive,” they write.
The activists suggest exchanging Gorinov with a prisoner like Marat Kasem, the editor in chief of Sputnik Lithuania, who was arrested by Latvian authorities on suspicion of espionage and violating EU sanctions.
The campaign is spearheaded by activist Lev Ponomaryov, who told Novaya Gazeta Europe that Russia could demand dozens of people in exchange for Gorinov. “We have no doubt that there are dozens, if not hundreds, imprisoned for espionage. […] There is definite potential for an exchange. There’s even precedent — Griner was traded for Bout not long ago,” said Ponomaryov.
He added that “if the first exchange happens, then we can think about a second, and a third.” Apart from Gorinov, the activists also named Ilya Yashin and Alexey Navalny, whom they call “political prisoners No. 1.”