7 Oct 2019 17:35

Kyiv's actions on prisoner swap regretful - Donetsk

DONETSK. Oct 7 (Interfax) - The progress of swapping prisoners between Donbas and Kyiv has somehow taken a few steps back, ombudsman of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) Darya Morozova told Interfax.

"We have taken several steps back. Firstly, we did not receive any guarantees from the Ukrainian side that the process of legal clearing will be completed, and this was set as one of DPR's main conditions. We are waiting for this guarantee from the Ukrainian leadership," she said.

"Secondly, the Ukrainian side has unilaterally verified people who are subject to an exchange. This has not been approved with us in the negotiating process," Morozova said.

The opposing sides initially agreed that prisoners who are expected to be swapped will be verified along the contact line, but the Ukrainian side changed conditions at the previous Minsk meeting on October 1, she said. "We categorically do not agree with the results of unilateral verification. The Donetsk People's Republic does not recognize them. We assert that psychological pressure has been put on them," she said.

The Ukrainian side will provide guarantees of the procedural clearing of prisoners at the next meeting in Minsk on October 15, and resume the agreements on verification directly along the contact line, agreements which have previously been approved by the negotiating parties.

DPR representatives are totally unaware of the prisoner exchange between Kyiv and Donbas, which was scheduled this week and announced by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko, she said.

"Mr. Prystaiko makes very contradictory statements. Is he possibly negotiating some kind of separate exchange with Russia we are unaware of? As for our exchange between Ukraine, Donetsk, and Luhansk, it is still early to talk about that. The Ukrainian side should make a political decision, meet all those conditions, which have been previously agreed, and following that, we are ready," she said.

Prystaiko had earlier announced a large-scale exchange of prisoners, which is scheduled already this week, but without specifying any details.

"We are planning an even broader [prisoner] exchange in the near future, literally, I hope, next week," Prystaiko said during the Right to Power talk show on a Ukrainian TV channel on October 3.

"The information of Prystaiko is incorrect. The work on the exchange is under way within the framework of the Contact Group in Minsk. There will be no exchange next week, as far as I know from competent people participating in this process," Center for Current Policy Director Alexei Chesnakov told Interfax on October 4.

Russia and Ukraine earlier carried out a 35-for-35 prisoner swap on September 7.