The penultimate meeting of the Working Group on Humanitarian Issues in 2021 took place today. The negotiations have not produced progress, but they made it absolutely clear that the Ukrainian side was unable to negotiate on the issue of the mutual release of persons detained in connection with the conflict.
It was this topic that took most of the time of the discussion, since on the eve of the New Year holidays, the families of the detainees especially hope for an exchange and expect concrete decisions from us. However, representatives of Kiev ignored constructive initiatives aimed at rapprochement of the positions of parties on a key humanitarian issue. And in fact, they signed their unwillingness to fulfill the sixth point of the Minsk complex of measures.
Thus, the main obstacle to a new exchange is still Kiev’s unfulfilled obligations on the procedural “cleansing” of persons transferred to the DPR in 2019-2020. Ukraine is well aware of this, but has not applied the developed procedure for pardoning to 50 actually released persons, continuing their criminal prosecution. Their rights have not yet been restored and these people are under the threat of repeated imprisonment. Thus, the 2019-2020 exchanges are considered incomplete, which does not allow proceeding to the discussion and preparation of the next stages of the mutual release of the detainees.
For two years, Ukrainian negotiators have been unable to provide intelligible answers to questions about the reasons for this “delay”, although, if it desired, Kiev is able to close all procedural issues as soon as possible. We were once again convinced in that today, when the representative of Ukraine announced that President Zelensky will sign a decree granting pardon to 13 previously released persons, if the Republics agree to conduct a new stage of the exchange, without requiring the fulfillment of previous obligations on the procedural “cleansing”.
I emphasize that such blackmail and speculation are unacceptable. It is necessary to stop the innuendo and look for a way out of the stalemate in the negotiations of the Humanitarian Group, which happens because of the actions of Ukraine. And for this purpose, we have proposed a specific mechanism. If Ukraine really cares about the fate of people, this mechanism has to be implemented step by step. However, within the framework of today’s discussion, our opponents refused to even comment on this initiative.