LUGANSK, November 7. /TASS/. Self-defense forces of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic and representatives of the forces loyal to the government in Kiev on Friday had an exchange of prisoners of war near the city of Luhansk, a TASS correspondent said in a dispatch from the spot.
They exchanged seven pro-government soldiers for five fighters of the self-defense units. The action took place near a township named Schastye (Happiness).
Men set free by the Ukrainian side had difficulty keeping their emotions to themselves. One could see on their wrists the fragments of a plastic rope, with which their hands had been tied in captivity.
“We got normal treatment there,” one of the released men said. “They kept me prisoner for slightly more than a month.”
One of the freed prisoners was a woman who had spent 85 days as a captive. She introduced herself as Svetlana Konoplyova.
“We were seized while delivering coffins for the funerals of dead fighters,” she said recounting the story or her ordeal.
They failed to take the coffins to the cemetery. Government troops seized them near the town of Novosvetlovka.
“After Novosvetlovka, I was taken to Luhansk airport, then to Lutugino, to Satobeltsevo, to Kramatorsk, to Izyum, to Kharkiv, and then again to Izyum, and finally I’ll get to Luhansk today,” Svetlana said.
Exchange of POWs is one of the key provisions of the accords reached at a meeting of the Contact Group for Ukraine in Minsk on September 5. Since then, the parties to the civil war in eastern Ukraine have had two exchange actions on the territory of the Luhansk People’s Republic.
A total of thirteen self-defence fighters were exchanged for fourteen pro-government soldiers on October 14. The second action took place on October 28, with seven Ukrainian soldiers exchanged for eight militiamen.
As many as eight exchanges have been held in the Donetsk People’s Republic - 37 pro-government soldiers for 37 fighters, as well as seventy for seventy, thirty-eight for thirty-eight, twenty-eight for twenty-eight, and thirty for sixty.