Despite the opposition of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), Nadiya Savchenko has published on her Facebook page a list of the Ukrainians who are imprisoned by the LPR and DPR, as well as those who are considered missing. She also posted the names of those who the DPR (Donetsk People's Republic) and LPR (Luhansk People's Republic) demand to be released. The SBU believes that this move could harm the prisoner exchange process and their families. Savchenko herself believes the opposite: that the publicity will only speed up the return of "captive" Ukrainians.
Savchenko’s list and her plan for the release of prisoners
In Savchenko's opinion, a complete exchange of all prisoners should be made in three stages. The first stage is an exchange according to published lists, which are confirmed by each side. Next are the unconfirmed that remain on the lists, with each side searching for hidden prisons and basements. In the last stage, everyone who could not be found will be recognized dead or missing.
''The Ukrainian side files a request for 129 people [prisoners]. The opposite side confirms 42 people. Also, Ukraine is looking for 494 missing. This number corresponds to the list of prisoners in Ukraine which are requested to be returned by representatives of the Russian-occupied Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. From the DPR there 524 such people on the list, and from the LPR there are 377. Ukraine has confirmed some people from these lists; around 256 people,'' Savchenko wrote. ''Taking the state of affairs into consideration, we could conduct the first phase of the exchange of officially confirmed prisoners from both sides: 42 for 256.''
The second category of prisoners, according to Savchenko, are Ukrainian political prisoners who are imprisoned in Russia and the occupied Crimea. Those account for about 44 people. At the same time, in Ukrainian prisons there are 102 Russian citizens who are convicted of crimes against the territorial integrity of Ukraine from 2014 to 2016. Thus, the first step of the exchange of prisoners of this category according to an "all to all" format is 44 for 102.
SBU: the lists are not correct and could harm the exchange process
Adviser to the head of the SBU Yuri Tandit is sure that public information could pose a threat to the lives of hostages. Prisoners’ relatives could become victims of scams that promise information or assistance in the liberation of prisoners in exchange for money. Tandit also stressed that the publication of such information is prohibited by the laws of Ukraine on protection of personal data and on the fight against terrorism. Recently, Yuri Tandit had already met with Savchenko and asked her not to publish the lists of prisoners.
The leader of the team for the exchange of prisoners, Oleh Kotenko, calls the lists incorrect, and the disclosure itself by Savchenko a PR move.
''These lists are incorrect. The names of released captives are mixed with the missing and dead. Many people from these lists have already been released. Others, on the contrary, I do not see there. We compared her lists with the lists in our database. Most of the names there are real people who are currently in captivity. Of course, the fraudsters will now collect their thoughts and start searching for people with these surnames. In addition, mothers of those people who are not in these lists could start panicking,'' Kotenko said.
He also added that the most accurate information about prisoners of war and missing people is possessed by the SBU.
What Savchenko says
At the briefing, Nadiya Savchenko said that she published the names of the prisoners to avoid speculation on the part of the Russian Federation as well as Ukraine. She also added that these lists should have been made public immediately. As an example, she provided the story of her release from a Russian prison, which happened, among other things, due to the publicity of the process.
Savchenko said she had been working on the list for nine months. She also added that she had another list of people, but that it had not been fully checked yet.
The so-called ombudsman of the DPR, Daria Morozova said that Savchenko's proposals are unacceptable since the MP offers to exchange only half of the prisoners of the DPR and LNR. The DPR wishes to receive 527 people, while Savchenko’s list has only 256.
''Among the Kyiv detainees there are not only DPR and LPR citizens, but Russians as well. Thus, we insist on the full return of all who have been held by the Ukrainian government,'' the representative of the illegal government summed up. She also added that the issue of prisoner exchange, as it was before, will be discussed during the humanitarian subgroup meeting in Minsk.
However, the deputy chairman of the so-called People's Council of LPR, Vladislav Deinego offered an opposing opinion in an interview with the MK publication. ''I support the offer of Savchenko. Since summer we have insisted on the exchange of at least those who are included in both our confirmed lists and the Ukrainian confirmed lists."