Nadia Shavchenko
Ex-Ukrainian army pilot Nadezhda Savchenko watches from a glass-walled cage at her court hearing in Donetsk, southern RussiaReuters

Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko, who became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance after being jailed for murder in Russia, has been released and is being flown back to Ukraine, according to media reports.

An official in the Ukrainian presidential administration confirmed the release to AP, and said Savchenko was being released as part of a swap deal that would see Russian servicemen Yevgeny Yerofeyev and Alexander Alexandrov imprisoned in Ukraine freed.

Savchenko was sentenced to 22 years in prison after being found guilty of directing artillery fire that killed two Russian television journalists while serving in a Ukrainian volunteer battalion. Her legal team claims that she was already being held as a prisoner by pro-Russian forces at the time the journalists were killed.

During her detention and trial, she became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance to alleged Russian aggression in east Ukraine. While imprisoned she was elected to the Ukrainian parliament in 2014.

Kremlin-funded TV station RT reported that the two Russians had been released and were being flown to Moscow. Savchenko, 35, is being flown from Rostov-on-Don to Ukraine on a plane belonging to Ukrainian prime minister Petro Poroshenko.