LUGANSK, February 17 (Lugansk Media Centre) - The Lugansk People’s Republic is currently looking for some 60 detainees in the Ukrainian territory, LPR representative to the Contact Group humanitarian subgroup, head of the Republic’s working group on prisoner exchange Olga Kobtseva said at a press briefing at the Lugansk Media Centre.
“The principle to realise the “all-for-all” (prisoner exchange) formula, even if the exchange took place in December 2019, was not implemented,” Kobtseva said. “The first thing I want to note is that Ukraine did not show readiness to release people and refused to list those who we know have been detained; they number some 20.”
“The situation has not changed since the New Year. Reports on detentions keep coming in from our territory and Ukraine. That is the political issue, political points are not implemented in Ukraine; it continues to persecute people for their political views, so the number of people we’re looking for as of today has increased several-fold. This figure is in the range of 60,” the LPR representative said.
“A check is needed on every person, because we assume that some people might want to be set free but don’t want to leave Ukraine.” However, some simply cannot stay in the Ukrainian territory because of the charges brought against them by Ukrainian authorities,” Kobtseva said.
Earlier, Kobtseva said that Contact Group humanitarian subgroup at the meeting in Minsk on January 29, 2020 agreed to exchange detainee lists for further verification, while on February 12, the subgroup discussed the legal aspects of the search for the missing.
The 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 detainee verification lasted several hours. Representatives of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine and the International Committee of the Red Cross were monitoring the prisoner exchange. The LPR passed 25 detainees to Ukraine, and latter passed 63 people to the Republic.
The accord on prisoner exchange before yearend under the all verified for all verified principle was reached at the “Normandy Four” (Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia) summit in Paris on December 9-10, 2019. However, the Contact Group participants failed to agree on prisoner exchange at the talks in Minsk on December 18 due to Kiev representatives’ position. It was only possible to reach the accord at the video conference on December 23.
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 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.