Friday, November 17, 2017 - 19:54
The prisoner exchange between the Donbass republics and Kiev is expected before the end of this year, Izvestia writes with reference to representatives of the two republics’ leadership. This comes after the talks with the Contact Group in Minsk and leader of the Ukrainian Choice-People’s Right Viktor Medvedchuk’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Moscow Region where Medvedchuk asked the Russian leader to influence the situation with the captives. According to Denis Pushilin, chief envoy of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) in the Contact Group for the Donbass settlement, the issue would not get off the ground without Putin’s involvement.
"Russia is a consistent mediator in the settlement to the conflict. Taking into account the fact that the Russian president delved into the issue at Medvedchuk’s request, the chances are high that prisoners will be swapped by the New Year," he told the newspaper, adding that progress is already evident. The sides will have to hold "very challenging but short" negotiations, Pushilin said. Also, Donetsk and Lugansk are not going to accept a partial swap. According to the politician, the leaders of the ‘Normandy format’, including Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko supported the idea of an all-for-all prisoner exchange. "Our lists include people, particularly political prisoners, who are relevant to the Donbass conflict. There are Berkut personnel, and Odessa residents who took part in the May 2 events there, and a number of other political prisoners. No one apart from us will protect them, which is why we demand releasing those people," he stressed.
The all-for-all prisoner swap is one of the key provisions of the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk agreements that was signed in the Belarusian capital of Minsk on February 12, 2015, after marathon talks between the leaders of Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine. Putin’s call to the heads of the LPR and DPR has accelerated the process, making it more difficult for Kiev to sabotage the final decision on the prisoners, representative of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) to the Contact Group Rodion Miroshnik told Izvestia. He added that now Kiev will not be able to strike certain people off the list that it would like to keep "for putting psychological pressure on the republics."
"In this case Vladimir Putin served as an ‘engine’ getting all of it off the ground. A situation has been skillfully created, in which the ball is in Poroshenko’s court, and if he abandons the prisoner swap, it will discredit him before the whole world and the guarantors of the Minsk Accords," he emphasized.
According to TASS
DONi News Agency