19 November 2020, 15:11



Ukraine takes no steps towards prisoner exchange, statements about Dec 24 are absurd - Kobtseva

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LUGANSK, November 19 (Lugansk Media Centre) - Ukraine has not taken a single step towards a new prisoner exchange; talking about a possible prisoner swap on December 24 is absolutely ridiculous, Lugansk People’s Republic representative in the Contact Group humanitarian subgroup, head of the LPR working group on prisoner exchange Olga Kobtseva said at a press briefing at the Lugansk Media Centre.

“As of today, Ukraine has not made a single move even towards discussing the list of the people who can be set free under the accords we have reached,” Kobtseva said noting that after the prisoner exchange in December 2019, Kiev representatives in the humanitarian subgroup did not provide information to the Republic about the persons looked for in Ukraine or the updated lists of the people  whose whereabouts were being ascertained by Ukraine.

Kobtseva said that earlier, “Mr (Ukrainian President Vladimir) Zelensky made statements about the exchange (of detainees) on December 15, and now Mr (head of the Ukrainian delegation in the Contact Group, former Ukrainian president Leonid) Kravchuk has named December 24 as the date.”

“Talking about the exchange on December 24 is absolutely absurd,” the LPR representative said.

She said that Ukraine had blocked the arrangement for new prisoner swaps as it had not dropped criminal prosecution against detainees.

Kobtseva also noted that prisoner exchange did not appear possible until the Ukrainian parliament brought 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 the 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 — 19 November — Lugansk