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Minsk talks on eastern Ukraine settlement to focus on prisoner exchange

July 30, 2014, 17:10 UTC+3 DONETSK

Official data suggest that some 350 militia fighters are held captive by the Ukrainian security forces

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© ITAR-TASS/Stanislav Krasilnikov

DONETSK, July 30. /ITAR-TASS/. Prisoner exchange is expected to be the focus of negotiations on settlement of the situation in eastern Ukraine, due in Minsk, Vice Premier of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) Andrei Purgin told ITAR-TASS.

“The issue of an even prisoner exchange should be the first priority. It’s one of the vital issues for me,” he said.

He added that official data suggest that some 350 militia fighters are held captive by the Ukrainian security forces, but the figure could be higher.

“It’s only official information, but it’s difficult to guess the actual number. According to different estimates, we hold captive about 155 security troops,” he said.

The DPR vice premier said he did not expect a breakthrough from the Minsk meeting of the trilateral contact group (the OSCE - Ukraine - Russia).

“I would like to say that these are not yet full-fledged negotiations, but only consultations. I’m not very sure that the next step will be the beginning of the negotiations on the complete stoppage of bloodshed,” he said.

ITAR-TASS reported previously that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko turned to Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko with a request to help organise in Minsk on July 31 a meeting of the trilateral contact group on Donbas settlement, involving Ukraine’s second President Leonid Kuchma, Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov and an OSCE official. The talks will focus on the release of hostages and prisoners of war, as well as on ensuing access of international experts to the MH-17 crash site near Torez in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

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