LUHANSK, October 14. /TASS/. The first exchange of prisoners between the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) and Ukrainian troops took place Tuesday near the city of Kirovsk in line with the “13 militiamen for 14 soldiers” formula, a TASS correspondent reported from the site.
Freed militiamen were in a very good mood. The bus they were in was heading to Luhansk where they were supposed to be given a gala reception.
The venue and date of the exchange have been changed several times due to the fault of the Ukrainian side. The talks seemed to have come to a deadlock on Monday after Ukraine refused to bring three militiamen from Kharkov, but mediators from the committee of Luhansk’s veterans of the Afghan war managed to agree new exchange terms.
The LPR Defense Ministry agreed on the pledge of the Ukrainian side’s word that during the next exchange of captives, the LPR authorities will be handed one prisoner more.
According to the UN, some 3,500 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled Ukraine’s war-torn south-east as a result of clashes between Ukrainian troops and local militias in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions during Kiev’s military operation, conducted since mid-April, designed to regain control over the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics.
The parties to the Ukrainian conflict agreed on cessation of fire during talks mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on September 5 in Minsk two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed his plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine.
Exchanges of captives became a key point of agreements reached at the Minsk meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine. There have been a few cases of prisoner swaps between southeastern militias and Ukraine's armed forces since.