At the last meeting of the Humanitarian Subgroup in Minsk, which took place on November 22, we could finally reach an agreement that the Ukrainian side receive pre-conflict detainees who had expressed a desire to continue serving their sentence in the territory of Ukraine. The date announced by Kiev officials – November 27 – is questionable, however. To my mind, their approach is rather neglectful, since there are technical issues such as preparation of documents, ensuring ceasefire and convoy that make it impossible to perform the transfer within short timeframes.
Also, the position of the Ukrainian side is rather disturbing. They try to use doublespeak strategy when they call voluntary unilateral transfer of convicts exchange.
I would like to remind that it was our initiative, back in 2015, to transfer pre-conflict detainees who expressed a desire to continue serving their sentence in the territory of Ukraine to ensure respect to their rights and make it easier for relatives to visit them. Besides, we proposed to make this process bilateral, since we had received appeals from citizens in that respect. The Ukrainian side responded negatively. Nevertheless, the Donetsk People’s Republic as a law-based and socially responsible State will continue to fulfil its commitments unilaterally, showing good will and respect to human rights and freedoms.
We have long been ready for the next transfer of convicts. For the past few months, we have been trying to resume cooperation thereon with Ukraine. Now we finally managed to make contact with the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, which enabled us to discuss the mechanism. We are fully committed to its early implementation, so we call upon the Ukrainian side to avoid politicizing the transfer of convicts. I recommend to stop gaining some additional political points and misleading Ukrainian citizens, whose relatives have been sentenced before the conflict and those, whose relatives must be exchanged as part of the Minsk process.
In addition, in the comments from the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, there were frequent references to applications from hundreds of convicts who wished to continue serving their sentence in the territory of Ukraine. We are open to discussion and are willing to receive copies of those applications. We are prepared to work in that direction. Moreover, I believe that the list would have been reduced considerably if the Ukrainian side were not blocking the process of transfer of convicts for eight months. That is why we call upon to put political ambitions aside and work together to implement the initiative as soon as possible.