VGTRK correspondent Nikolai Dolgachev asked Donbass residents to comment on the decisions of the “Normandy four” in Paris. He interviewed the militias in the trenches and ordinary people who still need to hide from shelling by Ukrainian security forces in shelters.
Ukrainian military in the Donetsk prison. Intelligence officer. He was captured during the fighting near Debaltsevo. There are several dozen such prisoners in the DPR. They were included in the exchange list and now can return to Ukraine, if the exchange takes place.
Bogdan Pantyushenko – tank commander. In 2014, he was shot down near Donetsk. Now ready for the exchange. Bogdan is waiting for the first day of freedom.
Irina Alekseevna lives not far from the prison. She is waiting for her son from Ukrainian captivity. A young guy, a miner. He was taken prisoner after a battle. Injured. Included in the lists of persons who are ready to be returned home.
Ukrainian prisoners say without embarrassment that they want to force Donbass fall under control of Kiev authorities. They receive parcels from relatives, all their clothes are from home. But in Ukraine, prisoners often have different detention conditions.
Elena Petruk spent almost three years in custody. She was exchanged. But even now she cannot return to her hometown Kharkov. The persecution continues. For former prisoners, Ukraine did not introduce an amnesty.
“I am on the wanted list in Ukraine. Should I take a step towards the territory of Ukraine, I won’t even be able to cross the first checkpoint, they will put me in jail. And the sentence for terrorism would be about 15-20 years,” said Petruk.
Elena cannot even get a Russian passport – because of an ongoing criminal prosecution in Ukraine. The exchange of prisoners, scheduled for this month, may not take place due to such a position on Kiev’s part.
Donbass demands to clear from charges all those whom the Ukrainian authorities return, otherwise there will be no exchange. And the lists need to be updated.
“The exchange of documents was not carried out for about two years. In addition to the 88 people that we have confirmed, there are 160 more people who are working on. We are working to establish their whereabouts. And the Ukrainian side is doing the same. It is impossible to say that we will conduct a full exchange, that is, “all for all”. It will be an exchange of all identified for all identified,” explained Daria Morozova, DPR Human Rights Ombudsman.
There are new prisoners detained – the war is ongoing. The war of positions. But sabotage groups continue their operations. Donbass land is full of trenches. Now it is a part of the local landscape. Hundreds of kilometres. In the mining region, people are used to digging the ground, of course.
“Looks like the Ukrainian President’s orders do not reach the troops. Or he just doesn’t give the orders. The shooting intensified during the meeting of the “Normandy Four”. It was on that day that there was mortar fire,” said a militiaman.
You can observe the movement of hardware and troops. Manpower. Ukrainian positions are visible from the dugout. The trenches are located much closer than they should be under the Minsk agreements. They almost completely occupied the “no man’s land”. And here is the extreme line of defence of the DPR. It is exactly where it should be according to the agreement. For the last several years, the Republics have fully fulfilled all their obligations.
In Donbass, they are fully ready for the exchange of prisoners. But Ukraine should prepare for it as provided for in the Minsk agreements. Prisoners should be amnestied. It is also necessary to carry out procedural clearance for those who are subject to the exchange. Only after that, Donetsk and Lugansk will hand over the Ukrainian servicemen.