16 April 2020, 14:12



Three people held by Kiev withdraw from POW exchange for family reasons - Kobtseva

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LUGANSK, April 16 (Lugansk Media Centre) - Three of the detainees held in the Ukrainian territory refused to participate in the prisoner exchange on Thursday, a Lugansk People’s Republic representative said.

“The exchange has just taken place. We passed 11 (people) to Ukraine,” LPR representative to the Contact Group humanitarian subgroup, head of the LPR working group on prisoner exchange Olga Kobtseva said at the POW exchange scene on the contact line near the bridge in the Schastye area.

"In the interview with the persons due to the handed over to the LPR, three persons said that they would  stay in Ukrainian territory of their own free will,” she said.

“The dropouts said they had houses and relatives there (in Kiev-held areas),” Kobtseva said.

The LPR and Kiev, at the video conference on April 8, agreed to exchange prisoners under the 11 for 8 formula by April 17. Later on, one person confirmed his refusal to participate in the exchange, and three more people backtracked just before the exchange.

The previous prisoner exchange between the Donbass Republics and Ukraine, the largest 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.

On December 27, 2017, 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 Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements was adopted by the Contact Group on Ukraine on February 12, 2015 and supported by member states of the Normandy Four (Germany, Russia, Ukraine and France). The UN Security Council approved the document by Resolution 2202 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 — 16 April — Lugansk