19 May 2018 19:33

Rally demanding Russia release captive Ukrainians takes place in Kyiv

KYIV. May 19 (Interfax) - Over 200 people have gathered near the Independence Monument in downtown Kyiv to participate in a rally dubbed 'Free Ukraine's Defenders.'

Participants in the rally organized by nationalists held banners demanding that the Russian authorities release Ukrainian troops held in the areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions outside Kyiv's control and in Russian prisons.

Participants said during the rally that, according to information they have, over 70 Ukrainians are currently being illegally held in the self-proclaimed Donbas republics and Russia.

Participants in the rally planned to march to the embassies of Germany and France in Kyiv and deliver their demands for increased pressure on Russia regarding its fulfillment of international obligations.

The rally took place without incidents, the police department for preventive communication mostly ensured public order in downtown Kyiv.

On Friday, the rally in support of RIA Novosti Ukraine chief Kyrylo Vyshynsky took place near the Ukrainian Embassy in Moscow. The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) detained him on suspicion of treason in Kyiv on May 15.

The Trilateral Contact Group on Donbas has recently discussed the prisoner swap at its meetings in Minsk. The self-proclaimed Donbas Republic offered Ukraine to swap "all identified persons held in custody in Ukraine for all identified persons held in custody in the republics." Kyiv, in turn, insists that Russia release "Ukrainian political prisoners and hostages" and says it is ready to hand over to the Russian side "Russian citizens convicted for crimes against the Ukrainian state" in response.

On May 16, OSCE Representative to Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine Martin Sadjik evaluated the group's progress on the prisoner swap with restraint and said he expects that the resolution of this issue could accelerate following a meeting in the Normandy format.