DPR officials demand to include 288 Donbass residents held in Ukrainian prisons in the exchange lists. The Ukrainian side, however, confirms holding only 80 prisoners. Over the past month, the number of people requested by the DPR reduced by 9 people, because some of them have been acquitted or released as they have served their sentence in Ukraine. This was reported to Izvestia by the press service of the Human Rights Ombudsman in the DPR Daria Morozova. As the Chairman of the People’s Council of the Republic Denis Pushilin noted in an interview with Izvestia, the issue of the exchange of prisoners will be one of the main issues at the Minsk meetings scheduled for May 4.
Despite assurances from the representatives of the Ukrainian side about their readiness to start a new stage of the exchange of prisoners with Donbass, no progress has been achieved for almost four months. The last large-scale exchange transpired at the end of December 2017. Nevertheless, according to the latest data, the list of citizens requested by the DPR during this time has been somewhat reduced.
– As of April 27, 288 Donbass residents are being illegally held on the territory of Ukraine. Of these, Kiev confirms the presence of only 80 people. The number of people requested by the DPR decreased, as several people in Ukraine were acquitted or released as they have served their sentence, – said the press service of the DPR Ombudsman, representative of the Republic in the humanitarian subgroup in Minsk negotiations Daria Morozova.
Earlier, in March, Daria Morozova told Izvestia about a list of 297 people, of whom only 81 prisoners have been confirmed by Ukraine. Thus, by the end of April, nine people were released from detention. However, the exchange process is still a matter of serious disagreement between the parties. According to Denis Pushilin, another round of talks will take place in Minsk on May 4, where the exchange of prisoners will be one of the key issues.
– This issue is constantly being delayed, blocked and sabotaged by Ukraine. It’s no secret that it is very difficult to come to an agreement with the Ukrainian leadership not only to us but also to the other parties involved in the conflict settlement. This, of course, is not a panacea, but involving some influence from the outside could contribute to achieving progress in this matter, – Head of the DPR Parliament told Izvestia.
Meanwhile, Ukraine is requesting 115 people from Donbass, of which 14 persons have been confirmed. As Daria Morozova previously told “Izvestia”, the DPR detains only military men and saboteurs whose guilt had been proven. If a person favours the Ukrainian position, which he/she openly expresses, this cannot serve as a ground for his / her arrest, she clarified.
Two interlocutors of Izvestia, representing the Ukrainian side in the contact group, explained that Kiev is still inclined to perform the new stage of the exchange, but “the process of coordinating the lists is very complicated and requires lengthy negotiations.”
According to the deputy of the Verkhovna Rada Tatiana Bakhteeva, it is necessary to continue to perform stage-by-stage exchanges of prisoners in order to stop the war in Donbass.
– The war in the Donbas is a great tragedy for Ukraine. Kiev should set a goal to resolve the crisis and establish a truce. The exchange of prisoners is one of the ways to increase trust between all parties, the way to peace,” the Ukrainian deputy told Izvestia.
In February 2015, representatives of Ukraine and of the Republics signed the “Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements.” The fifth paragraph of this document, in particular, establishes the need to “provide pardon and amnesty by enacting a law prohibiting prosecution and punishment of persons in connection with events that occurred in certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts of Ukraine.” The next paragraph refers to the obligation to exchange prisoners of war and illegally detained persons under the “all for all” formula. In December 2017, the largest exchange took place. However, Kiev released only 237 people out of 306, who had originally been included in the lists. As explained by Ukrainian authorities, some people from this list allegedly fell into the category of detainees, who cannot be released through the exchange.