Kiev does not confirm readiness for POW exchange, date not set - Kobtseva
LUGANSK, December 12 (Lugansk Media Centre) - The Contact Group humanitarian subgroup video conference on prisoner exchange arrangements did not yield any results, said LPR humanitarian subgroup representative, head of the working group on prisoner exchange Olga Kobtseva.
“The video conference on POW exchange has ended. Regrettably, no headway has been made in the negotiations. Ukraine was stalling for time under far-fetched pretexts,” Kobtseva said.
Ukraine’s top negotiator for humanitarian issues, special representative for humanitarian issues Viktor Medvedchuk did not attend the talks so no date was announced. “We didn’t see readiness for POW exchange on the part of Ukraine, nor did we hear their confirmation,” Kobtseva went on.
“Today’s video conference was chaotic. Each of the Ukrainian representatives stated far-fetched reasons for not exchanging people,” the LPR official said. “There’s still time before the end of the year; LPR is hoping that Ukraine will deliver on its promise. This promise was made at a very high level, (hopefully,) they’ll make all efforts towards securing prisoner exchange. The date of the next working group meeting will be set by the group’s coordinator, because it makes no sense to hold a video conference with Ukraine’s not being ready to discuss POW exchange.”
Earlier, Kobtseva said LPR was hoping that the prisoner exchange would take place before the New Year, but that no date had been set yet as ‘legal clearance’ of LPR detainees was still ongoing in Ukraine.
She stated that the solution of the prisoner exchange issue and the date wholly depended on Ukraine’s position. Kobtseva also noted that LPR and DPR confirmed their readiness to hand over 16 and 58 detainees to Ukraine, respectively. The LPR representative made it clear that the exchange must not be split into stages.
Earlier, Kiev officials said that some of the persons detained in Ukraine had to be cleared of charges for updating their legal status.
In a telephone conversation with LPR and DPR leaders Igor Plotnitskiy and Alexander Zakharchenko on 15 November, Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed Ukrainian special representative for humanitarian issues Viktor Medvedchuk’s initiative to carry out the 306 for 74 prisoner swap in the near future. The LPR leader told the Russian president that the Lugansk People’s Republic was ready to discuss prisoner exchange issues and that it was awaiting Kiev’s reply to these initiatives.
Prisoner exchange is a key point of the Minsk Agreements.
The Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements was adopted by the Contact Group on Ukraine on 12 February 2015 and supported by member states of the Normandy Four (Germany, Russia, Ukraine and France). The UN Security Council approved the document by its 2202 Resolution and called upon all the sides to ensure full implementation of the Package of Measures.
The document provides for comprehensive ceasefire, withdrawal of all heavy weapons from the contact line, starting a dialog on reconstruction of social and economic ties between Kiev and Donbass. It also envisages carrying out constitutional reform in Ukraine providing for decentralization and adopting permanent legislation on a special status of certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.
To facilitate the work of the Contact Group, four working groups were set up under its aegis to deal with issues of security, politics, return of internally displaced people and refuges, as well as with social, humanitarian, economic and rehabilitation issues.
LuganskMediaCentre — 12 December — Lugansk