The number of prisoners confirmed by the Ukrainian side has increased from 86 to 101. Meanwhile, Donetsk is requesting 252 people from Kiev. This was reported to Izvestia by the press service of the Office of DPR Ombudsman Daria Morozova. She told Izvestia that Ukraine has recently made a proposal to the Republic to exchange 33 Donetsk citizens for 11 Ukrainians. But Donetsk did not support this initiative since it does not correspond to the Minsk formula “all for all”. Due to the lack of political will in Kiev, the deal is unlikely to take place until the March 31 elections. In the Verkhovna Rada, it was noted that “the exchange of prisoners is the path to peace, which is now not in the interests of Petro Poroshenko.”
At the moment, Ukraine has confirmed holding 101 out of 252 prisoners, the press service of Daria Morozova told Izvestia. Earlier, Kiev said that it held 86 Donetsk citizens. Meanwhile, Donetsk confirms 15 Ukrainians on its territory and is ready to exchange them for “all confirmed”.
– Recently, the Ukrainian side offered us to change 33 persons for 11 persons. They could not allegedly prepare the rest of the people for the exchange. Having analyzed the proposed list, we found that these people are no different from those whom they “cannot prepare.” We understand that the Ukrainian side is simply delaying the issue and wants to make a demonstrative exchange, instead of fully implementing this paragraph of the Minsk agreements. We insist on exchanging all for all,” emphasized Daria Morozova in an interview to Izvestia. “I think this was done for the election campaign to show the involvement of the President of Ukraine in this process.” But there isn`t any, since just one political decision of Mr. Poroshenko could help carry out the exchange back in January 2018. As he had promised.
For several months now, official representatives of Kiev have barely been present at the meetings of the Humanitarian Subgroup in Minsk. Today, the parties will meet again in the capital of Belarus to discuss the exchange. However, according to the Ombudsman, this time the meeting, apparently, will be held “at the level of experts”. We are talking about people who are not authorized to sign documents.
“At the end of the past and at the beginning of this year, Irina Gerashchenko was present at the talks (she and Viktor Medvedchuk, the official representatives of Kiev on the issue of the exchange of prisoners). But this was done to create the appearance of work,” the Donetsk human rights defender argued. The Ombudsman believes that it is unlikely that people will be released from Ukrainian prisons until the end of the election campaign in Ukraine, since the official representatives of Kiev ignore meetings of the Humanitarian Subgroup.
A source from the Verkhovna Rada told Izvestia that the prisoners are “a bargaining chip in the political games” of the current President of the country, but “no one will dance to his tune.” As a deputy from the Opposition Bloc, Yevgeny Balitsky, noted, the absence of decision-makers at Minsk meetings where exchange decision are made is convenient for the Ukrainian authorities.
– Today, they benefit from the war, they earn money, make ratings. They are not trying to find a compromise. But the exchange of prisoners is the path to peace, which is undesirable for Poroshenko now. He now needs nationalist hysteria, not a peaceful settlement,” the Ukrainian parliamentarian told Izvestia.
Earlier, Viktor Medvedchuk said that the exchange of prisoners could be carried out within a few days if there was a political will of official Kiev.
In February 2015, representatives of Ukraine and the Republics signed a Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk agreements. The fifth paragraph of this document, in particular, provides for the need to “ensure pardon and amnesty by enacting the law prohibiting the prosecution and punishment of persons in connection with the events that took place in certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine”. The following paragraph refers to the obligation to hold an exchange of hostages and unlawfully detained persons, based on the principle of “all for all”.
In December 2017, the largest exchange took place. However, Kiev released only 237 out of 306 persons that had been agreed earlier. Since then, the Ukrainian side has found many reasons that hinder implementation of this paragraph of the Minsk agreements.