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16 February 2021, 17:40

Minsk-2

Society

Prisoner release blocked through Ukraine’s fault - Kobtseva

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LUGANSK, February 16 (Lugansk Media Centre) - Prisoner release is blocked through Ukraine’s fault, Lugansk People’s Republic representative in the Contact Group subgroup on humanitarian issues, head of the LPR working group on prisoner exchange Olga Kobtseva said at the press briefing at the Lugansk Media Centre following the humanitarian subgroup video conference on Tuesday.

“If Ukraine did everything to which its representatives put their signatures, the process of releasing people would not be blocked; as of today, it can be officially stated that the prisoner release is blocked through Ukraine’s fault,” Kobtseva said.

Earlier, she said that Kiev’s refusal to drop charges against former prisoners blocked the humanitarian subgroup’s work.

Kobtseva also said that Ukraine has not provided information on persons held in its territory since January 2020 and that Kiev, by not dropping criminal prosecution against the detainees, was blocking their release.

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

Kobtseva 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 — 16 February — Lugansk