Prisoners in Ukraine won’t be exchanged before 2016
A prisoner exchange between the Ukrainian government and the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) won’t happen before the New Year, despite the fact that the two sides agreed on the need carry out an such an exchange during a video conference on November 24th.
At the time, both parties agreed on the need to complete this process by late 2015, according to Daria Olifer, spokeswoman for Leonid Kuchma, Kiev’s envoy to the negotiations. “First, the exchange should take place for the most vulnerable prisoners, namely women and those who need medical assistance,” she stated last month.
Now, however, DPR representatives insist that the “all-for-all” prisoner exchange, as mandated by the Minsk II Agreement, isn’t possible. "We have heard Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko say he is committed to the idea of such an exchange, but at the same time we hear the Ukrainian military demands prisoners should be exchanged one for one… Physically there is no opportunity for exchanging people one for one,” said DPR Chairman Denis Pushilin.
The DPR claims that they currently hold no more than 20 prisoners, and insists that Kiev holds many more. The Ukrainian authorities put the number of prisoners held by pro-Russian separatists at 140.
The exchange of prisoners is on the agenda for the Trilateral Contact Group’s humanitarian subgroup, which will meet again on January 13th in Minsk.