Comment from Daria Morozova following Minsk meeting

Comments and statements of the Ombudsman News

At the previous meeting of the Humanitarian Subgroup in Minsk, Kiev representatives asked us whether we were ready to perform the second stage of the prisoner exchange under the formula “60 for 19”, trying to create the impression of their interest in the negotiation process.   Unfortunately, they did not provide us with the list of persons to be exchanged. Instead, they confidentially submitted the list to the Coordinator of the Humanitarian Subgroup Mr. Tony Frisch.

We had to remind them that paragraph 6 of the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements provides for the “all for all” exchange. We have repeatedly reiterated our commitment to this exchange principle and inadmissibility of any other interpretation of it, as well as dividing detainees into “categories”. Therefore, we regard the mythical proposal of the Ukrainian side as blackmail and an attempt to create the appearance of work. At the same time, highlight declarations by politicians who do not attend the meetings, but who are trying to comment on them, look more like a publicity stunt.

We urge the Ukrainian side to stop all sorts of manipulation and to revert to a time-tested practice of sending official exchange proposals with specific names in advance for preliminary coordination and subsequent development of solutions at the subgroup meetings. In addition, I asked Mr. Frisch, who will attend the meeting in the Normandy format at the level of political directors on November 26, to report on the situation in the Humanitarian Subgroup in order to facilitate the exchange of prisoners to transpire by the end of the year.

I want to remind that there is a human life and a fate of a prisoner’s family behind each number in the exchange list. Therefore, we have no right to manipulate their feelings. I reiterate the willingness of the Donetsk People’s Republic to perform the exchange, and I insist on its speedy implementation under the formula “all confirmed for all confirmed”.

As regards the transfer of pre-conflict detainees, we appreciated the willingness of the Ukrainian side to discuss this issue at the negotiations.  At the meeting of the Contact Group, however, this issue was partly ignored. An official representative, who did not attend the meeting, has stated afterwards that the process was disrupted.   Therefore, it is still unclear for us whether the Ukrainian side is willing to accept the people who expressed the desire to continue serving their sentence in the territory of Ukraine. I would like to note that the main condition is the establishment of contact with the Ombudsman of Ukraine, Ms. Denisova, after which the transfer can take place over the following two weeks, which are necessary due to technical reasons.  I would like to highlight that the transfer of pre-conflict detainees has a unilateral character, while persons who serve their prison sentence in the territory of Ukraine have no access to this procedure.

Also, we addressed the issue of missing persons. The Ukrainian side, however, is still trying to involve third-country representatives, despite the bilateral nature of this issue.  The political will of Kiev is needed to discontinue the policy of manipulation of feelings of people who have no idea of the fate of their relatives.

I hope and I insist that the Ukrainian side stop manipulating people’s lives on all issues of the agenda and began to develop and carry out constructive decisions.