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Ukraine Contact Group to hold meeting in Minsk

December 08, 2015, 8:48 UTC+3
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MINSK, December 8. /TASS/. Contact Group for settling the armed civil conflict in eastern Ukraine is to hold a yet another meeting in Minsk on Tuesday, to consider a heightening of armed tensions in the zone of conflict that has occurred there over the three weeks since the previous meeting.

The Defense Ministry of the self-proclaimed unrecognized Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) has been reporting on the instances of shelling of local towns and villages by pro-Kiev armed units. A number of peaceful civilians have been killed and members of the monitoring mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have reported noncompliance with the ceasefire regime by both sides.

The facts again move the problems of security to the foreground.

The meeting in Minsk is also going to hear a report on the efforts to clear the areas in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics of mines and on the pullback of heavy weapons from the Line of Contact in Donbas. It was to be drafted before the end of November in line with decisions of the ‘Normandy Four’ ministerial conference in Berlin.

Vladislav Deinego, the plenipotentiary representative of the Luhansk People’s Republic at the Minsk talks said in the course of a video conference on November 24 the sides had reviewed the information provided by the Joint Control and Coordination Center and by the coordinator of the group for security at the Line of Contact. He said however, conclusions would be reported at the meeting of the Contact Group on December 8.

Maria Zakharova, the official spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry said on the head of the JCCC would be invited to this meeting of the Contact Group for the first time.

At the previous videoconference of the Contact Group on November 24, the sides discussed a stepping up of the exchanges of POWs under the "all for all" formula. Darya Olifer, the press secretary of Kiev’s plenipotentiary representative to the Minsk talks, Leonid Kuchma, said a task had been put forward to round the process up before the end of 2015.

In the first place, the exchanges should concern the most vulnerable individuals - women and those who need urgent medical assistance, she said.

Donetsk republic officials have already said they expect list of POWs from Kiev on December 8. Darya Morozova, the DPR ombudsperson for human rights said the authorities of the self-proclaimed republic had handed their lists to Kiev and were prepared for an exchange at any moment.

"We expect to get a list of prisoners from Kiev on December 8 at a meeting of the humanitarian subgroup so as to hold the exchange and we hope the problem will be resolved with the assistance from Ukraine’s representative Viktor Medvedchuk," she said.

The prospect for an exchange under the "all for all" formula also raises the problem of an amnesty. Morozova said the problem of procedural clearing of the individuals released from Ukrainian imprisonment would be reflected in reports by the OSCE coordinator for the humanitarian subgroup.

"The POWs handed out by Ukraine are all without documents and procedural clearing and they can’t get new documents or leave for other places afterwards, since they have been placed on wanted lists in Ukraine," a DPR official said explaining for the essence of the problem.

In spite of all the attempts to put brake on the implementation of political aspects of the settlement process, Kiev, too, is gradually developing the realization of the importance of holding elections in the areas where it does not exercise control.

On December 3, the problem was raised in a telephone conversation between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. On the same day, Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin received a letter from his German and French counterparts, Frank Walter Steinmeier and Laurent Fabius, where they formulated the conditions for elections in Donbas.

"In other words, everyone understands the election should indeed be held," Klimkin said.

In the meantime, the concept of a law on elections on the territories of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics drafted in Kiev has not been coordinated in the framework of the group for political problems, Denis Pushilin said.

Maria Zakharova stresses that local elections in Donbas cannot be held on the basis of the Ukrainian law in effect now. She said a report by observers from the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, which recently monitored an election campaign in Ukraine, stated a number of considerable flaws in the effective election laws and in the practice of applying them.

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