MOSCOW, March 17 (RAPSI) - Twelve individuals, who were convicted and given prison terms in Crimea before the republic’s reunification with Russia, have been extradited to Ukraine for serving their sentence, press service for the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia announced on Friday.

The prisoners’ transfer took place at a checkpoint in the Belgorod Region, the statement reads.

Ukraine's Deputy Justice Minister, wrote on his Facebook page in February that these people “are not political prisoners.” “They are persons convicted by Ukrainian courts, and they have a right to return to Ukraine like other citizens of the country,” he said.

The process of convicts’ transfer is regulated by the 1983 Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. Russia signed the Convention in April 2005 and ratified it in August 2007. Ukraine ratified the document in September 1995.

Crimea reunited with Russia following a referendum in March 2014. Over 96 percent of those who took part in the polls voted for joining Russia.