LUGANSK, February 17 (Lugansk Media Centre) - The number of detainees due to be exchanged, as stated by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky at the 56th Munich Security Conference, is not consistent with the fact, Lugansk People’s Republic representative to the Contact Group humanitarian subgroup, head of the LPR working group on prisoner exchange Olga Kobtseva said at a news briefing at the Lugansk Media Centre.
At the Contact Group meeting on February 12, Ukraine passed the LPR the “updated lists of the persons it had been looking for in our territory, while the Republic passed the lists of the persons it had been looking for in the Ukrainian territory back in January, Kobtseva said.
“Taking into account the POW lists and information presented by the Republic, let’s say we’ve found points of contact to continue the work on composing these lists,” Kobtseva said.
“I want to note that the figures stated by Mr Zelensky in the runup to the meeting in Minsk and the figures he stated at the Munich conference are not consistent with the reality. That is these people are being looked for, so we have to check these lists because they might include the persons whom we never detained or those on whom the LPR has no information,” she 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 the 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.