1 Oct 2019 20:17

Donbas republics accusing Ukraine of dragging out prisoner exchange

DONETSK. Oct 1 (Interfax) - The Ukrainian sides have refused to carry out a procedural "clearance" of individuals for the Donbas prisoner exchange and verified them unilaterally, the ombudsman of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), Dariya Morozova, said.

"The Ukrainian side has thought up yet another way to block the prisoner exchange process. Kyiv's representatives unilaterally drew up questionnaires and conducted the verification of those eligible for the swap. This runs counter to all our earlier arrangements and the established practice of carrying out the verification on the contact line and at the time of the swap. We have reasons to doubt the objectivity of the poll that was conducted, so we cannot rely on the results of the unilateral verification," Morozova told journalists after a Trilateral Contact Group meeting in Minsk on Tuesday.

"Moreover, the Ukrainian side has totally refused to guarantee the application of pardon to the people who could be released on their own recognizance, if a court finds those people guilty in their absence. Thus, Kyiv has not guaranteed that subsequently people from that list will be totally 'in the clear' procedurally.

"We are awaiting Ukraine's political decisions and insist that the guarantees of adhering to the legal 'clearance' must be fulfilled, for that is our main demand. We are not happy with the unilateral verification because Ukrainian actions are untrustworthy."

Olga Kobtseva, the Luhansk People's Republic representative in the humanitarian subgroup, said: "Unfortunately, today's meeting in Minsk failed to yield the long-awaited concrete result: no agreement on a prisoner exchange was reached and Kyiv has yet to resolve issues relating to the procedural 'clearance' of people on the exchange list."

"Through such an approach, Ukraine is hindering attempts at reaching an agreement and carrying out the exchange between all identified prisoners," Kobtseva was quoted by the Luhansk information center as saying.

Since the subgroup's last meeting on September 18, Ukraine has made "not a single step to meet halfway those people who could now be free, surrounded by their families, and instead are compelled to languish in jail awaiting liberation," Kobtseva said.