Five key issues have been discussed at the meeting of the humanitarian subgroup in Minsk that took place on May 30: the signing of the Declaration on the Prohibition of Torture Against Prisoners; the exchange under the “all confirmed for all confirmed” formula; the search for missing persons; the construction of a bridge in Stanitsa Luganskaya and the transfer of convicts who wished to serve their sentences in penitentiary institutions in the territory of Ukraine.
Mr. Frisch introduced the new version of the Declaration condemning all forms of torture, ill-treatment, sexual violence and threats of violence against persons detained in connection with the conflict. We were ready to sign it because we are guided by principles of humanism and condemn torture, but, unfortunately, the Ukrainian side refused to sign the document. This evidences that Kiev representatives are not going to stop using torture against people, held in the territory of Ukraine.
As regards the discussion of the “all confirmed for all confirmed” exchange, the Republics reaffirmed their full readiness to the earliest release of people, unlike the Ukrainian side that declared its readiness to conduct the exchange, while taking no action to realize it. So far, we haven’t received their official position on issues that remained open after the exchange of December 27, namely placing people into categories; release of citizens of other states, who are directly related to the Republics, some of them are citizens of the Republics; the return of documents and regulation of the procedural status of people released earlier. The Ukrainian side has done none of that, which gives us no opportunity to move closer to the second stage of the exchange. Instead, it moves us away from the exchange. The exchange procedure is delayed through the fault of Ukrainian representatives. I would like to note that it has been two years since we conducted the last exchange. And we haven’t got any progress since that time, because the Ukrainian side constantly finds new excuses.
Also, the issue of transfer of persons, who had been sentenced before the conflict and who are staying in penitentiary institutions of the Donetsk People’s Republic, to the Ukrainian side was discussed at the meeting. I would like to note that we cooperated closely with the former Ukrainian Ombudsman, we used to transfer convicts to the Ukrainian side on a regular basis so that they could continue serving their sentence in the territory of Ukraine. As the new plenipotentiary representative has been appointed, the work on this issue completely stopped under unclear reasons. The authority has my contact information, which was repeatedly sent upon the appointment of the new representative. We shared this information with them many times, although the Ukrainian side does not get in contact with us to resolve the issue of transfer of convicts. We have prepared the group of people, who expressed their wish to continue serving their sentence in the territory of Ukraine, for transfer, but we cannot move forward because Kiev representatives are reluctant to establish contacts with us.
Also, no progress has been achieved in the issue of missing persons. This is because the female half of the Ukrainian delegation attended the negotiations three times only, during six months period. The meetings, however, take place twice a month. All agreements reached at the meetings conducted remain unclear because Ukrainian representatives have different opinion and position on the issue. Some of them contribute constructively to the discussions, and the others, who appear at the meetings very seldom, demonstrate destructive position during the discussion of the mechanism of search for missing persons.