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Problem of "all-for-all" prisoners exchange remains unresolved — Donetsk envoy

December 24, 2015, 16:24 UTC+3 MOSCOW

DPR keeps no more than 20 persons while Kiev keeps thousands of political prisoners, thus, physically there is no opportunity for exchanging people one-for-one as Kiev demands, Denis Pushilin explains

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© Taras Dudnik/TASS

MOSCOW, December 24. /TASS/. The problem of exchanging prisoners under the "all-for-all" pattern, as is required by the Minsk Accords, has failed to be resolved to this day, the permanent representative of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in the contact group for settlement in eastern Ukraine, Denis Pushilin, told a round-table discussion "Minsk Accords. Results-2015" at TASS on Thursday.

"We have heard Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko say he is committed to the idea of such an exchange, but at the same time we hear the Ukrainian military demand prisoners should be exchanged one for one," Pushilin said.

Such an approach is unacceptable, he warns.

"Let’s face the facts. We keep no more than 20 persons. They were seized in battle, while killing our citizens," Pushilin said. "In the meantime Kiev keeps thousands of political prisoners. Physically there is no opportunity for exchanging people one for one."

Pushilin urged early implementation of another item of the Minsk Accords concerning amnesty. He recalled that Kiev had in fact frozen the Ukrainian parliament’s act on that score. It has remained unsigned.

"Still worse, the law fails to accommodate the specific features of the conflict in Donbas," he said.

Contact Group’s political sub-group does not plan meetings before January 13

The Contact Group’s sub-group on political issues does not plan to hold meetings before talks of the Contact Group on January 13 in Minsk, Denis Pushilin went on to say.

The decision was made after the meeting in Minsk on December 22 to hold session of the Contact Group and its working sub-groups on January 13, 20 and 27.

"There is no sense for the political sub-group to gather earlier. The only exception can be made if it gathers one or two days earlier, depending on the decision of a coordinator," Pushilin said.

"The organizational format of sessions is currently changing," he continued. In particular, the Contact Group will now discuss the results of sub-groups’ meetings. This will allow to depart from the existing practice when the political sub-group continues discussions even after the Contact Group finished its meeting.

Pushilin added that meetings of the Contact Group in 2016 will take place on Wednesdays. "This was proposed by [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Special Representative for Ukraine] Martin Sajdik, and all sides agreed to this. Meetings will be held on Wednesdays," he said.

Minsk agreements on Ukraine

The Minsk accords were signed on February 12, after negotiations in the so-called "Normandy format" in the Belarusian capital Minsk, bringing together Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

The Minsk accords envisage ceasefire, weaponry withdrawal, prisoner exchange, local election in Donbass, constitutional reform in Ukraine and establishing working sub-groups on security, political, economy and humanitarian components of the Minsk accords.

The Ukrainian forces and the self-defense forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics have repeatedly accused each other of violating ceasefire and other points of the Minsk agreements.

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