2 February 2021, 13:55



Kiev’s refusal to drop charges against former detainees blocks humanitarian subgroup’s work - Kobtseva

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LUGANSK, February 2 (Lugansk Media Centre) - Ukrainian representatives’ refusal to drop charges against the persons released during prisoner exchanges blocks the work of the Contact Group subgroup on humanitarian issues, Lugansk People’s Republic representative in the humanitarian subgroup, head of the LPR working group on prisoner exchange Olga Kobtseva said.

During the humanitarian subgroup’s video conference on Tuesday, “Ukraine did not confirm its readiness to fulfil its obligations under any issue,” Kobtseva said.

“We heard another rant over the legal issue, we have no other word for it, (they said that) charges could not be dropped because of the Ukrainian law. Outstanding criminal charges prevent us from discussing the release of illegally held persons,” she said.  “Regrettably, as it is, Ukraine actually blocks the humanitarian group’s negotiations.”

The LPR representative said that the Republic had “offered Ukraine a compromise over the opening of new crossing points, and that Ukraine has not answered it.”

Press secretary of the LPR delegation in the Contact Group Maria Kovshar said that the Contact Group humanitarian subgroup video conference had been unavailing.

Earlier, Kobtseva said that Kiev, since January 2020, had not provided information on persons held in Ukraine and that Kiev’s not dropping criminal prosecution against the detainees blocked the issue of their release.

Up to date, Kiev has been unable to drop charges against the persons passed to the Donbass Republics during the prisoner exchange in late December 2019, she said.

Kobtseva also noted that prisoner exchange does not appear possible until the Ukrainian parliament brings its resolution on local elections in line with the Minsk Agreements.

A large prisoner exchange between the Donbass Republics and Ukraine, the first in the past two years, took place on December 29, 2019 in the vicinity of the Gorlovka-Mayorskoye crossing point in the Donetsk People’s Republic responsibility zone. The LPR passed 25 detainees to Ukraine, and latter passed 63 people to the Republic. The previous large prisoner exchange between the Donbass Republics and Ukraine took place on December 27, 2017. Back then, the LPR handed over 16 detainees to Ukraine, and Kiev passed 73 people to the LPR. Overall, more than 300 people were involved in the exchange.

Prisoner exchange is a key point of the Minsk Agreements.

The Ukrainian government launched the so-called anti-terrorist operation against Donbass in April 2014. Conflict settlement relies on the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements, signed on February 12, 2015 in the Belarussian capital by the Contact Group members and coordinated by the Normandy Four heads of states (Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine). The UN Security Council approved the document by Resolution No 2202 of February 17, 2015 and called upon the parties to ensure its implementation.

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 — 02 February — Lugansk