18 Dec 2017 20:08

DPR, LPR accuse Kyiv of disrupting prisoner swap talks

DONETSK/LUHANSK. Dec 18 (Interfax) - The Ukrainian side is disrupting agreements on the exchange of captives, Darya Morozova, the ombudsman of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), told reporters on Monday.

"The video conference on the exchange of captives has just ended. I have to note that Ukraine is disrupting all agreements. [...] We were still unable to appoint the date," she told reporters.

A Skype conference of the humanitarian subgroup of the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine took place on December 18, with the parties expected to agree on the date of the exchange of detained persons during it.

"The Ukrainian side is beginning to introduce some lists, divide people into groups again. [...] They did not respond to the OSCE coordinator's offer to carry out the exchange on December 27," Morozova said.

Viktor Medvedchuk, Ukraine's envoy and the leader of the Ukrainian Choice organization, was absent from the meeting, she said. The DPR will insist on his presence at negotiations in Minsk on December 20, Morozova said.

"This issue [the exchange of captives] will be submitted for consideration at the meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group on [December] 20 and we hope that the date of the swap will be determined," the DPR ombudsman said.

The envoy of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) to the subgroup, Olga Kobtseva, confirmed that the parties were still unable to determine the date of the prisoner swap between militiamen and the Ukrainian side during the videoconference.

"Unfortunately, no date for the exchange has been named," the Luhansk information center cited Kobtseva as saying.

"At the last moment, the Ukrainian side has begun to act out yet another scenario with respect to the lists of persons which the LPR and the DPR are seeking. They did not confirm their readiness to hand over persons mentioned in this list," the LPR envoy said.

There was nothing constructive during the discussion of the issues related to the exchange of captives in Donbas in the subgroup, she said.

"On our part, we confirmed the republic's readiness to implement the aforementioned agreements," Kobtseva said.

Meanwhile, Kyiv's envoy to the humanitarian subgroup and the first deputy speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, Iryna Herashchenko, said earlier that Ukraine had confirmed its readiness to release detained persons by the New Year and Christmas holidays during the Skype conference on Monday.

But representatives of Donetsk and Luhansk submitted new lists, effectively creating confusion in determining the exchange date, she said.

Kobtseva denied Herashchenko's statements.

"Ms. Herashchenko's statement that we added some new people, requests to this list today, what she described as 'confusion', is false," the Luhansk information center cited Kobtseva as saying.

"In light of [the fact that] political persecution is ongoing in Ukraine, we have submitted and will submit lists of people for the search," the LPR envoy said.

"Since 'the list of 306' was formed, we have repeatedly sent requests regarding people and Ukraine has simply ignored them. This is why we were forced to draw up a general list of persons which the Ukrainian side has not confirmed at the moment and forward to the Ukrainian side without details yet again on December 15," Kobtseva said.

"We have been searching and are searching for these people and we will demand the Ukrainian side confirm their detention. Furthermore, we have strong evidence that the aforementioned persons are being held in territory controlled by Ukraine," she said.