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KIEV, January 19. /TASS/. Representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) will discuss prospects of prisoner exchange with Kiev at the next meeting of the Contact Group’s sub-group on humanitarian issues on January 20 in Minsk, DPR envoy Denis Pushilin said on Tuesday.
"Ukraine does not change its stance on this matter and tries to manipulate the number [of prisoners] but exchanges not those people that we ask for — those militiamen have been held in SBU [Security Service of Ukraine] basements and other places for too long. Kiev is trying to force its political prisoners on us," Donetsk News Agency quoted Pushilin as saying.
He added that people detained on political grounds are subject to exchange on an "all for all" basis. "Now when we exchange those who were captured with weapons in hands and who destroyed our peaceful civilians, we want to get back defenders of the republic," he stressed.
At the meeting of the Contact Group in Minsk on 13 January 2016 the two sides agreed to exchange more than 50 prisoners. OSCE Special Representative for Ukraine Martin Sajdik expressed hope that prisoner exchange will be held before January 20 when the Contact Group is set to hold another meeting.
The Minsk accords were signed on 12 February 2015, 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 Lugansk republics have repeatedly accused each other of violating ceasefire and other points of the Minsk agreements.