KIEV, January 26. /TASS/. Ukraine’s envoy at the Contact Group on settlement in Donbas, Leonid Kuchma, and OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) coordinator at the humanitarian subgroup, Tony Frisch, have stressed the necessity to give a fresh impetus to the process of prisoner exchange, Kuchma’s press service said on Tuesday.
"The sides agreed on the necessity to urge representatives of certain districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions to invigorate the process of prisoner exchange and to provide access for specialists from the international organization Doctor Without Borders and experts from the International Committee of the Red Cross to places where Ukrainian captives and prisoners are held in those parts of Donbas that are not controlled by Ukraine," the press service said.
Kuchma and Frisch also agreed it was necessary to take measures to open a crossing point at the line of engagement in the Luhansk region and "discussed in detail all components of work of the humanitarian subgroup," the press service said.
Along with Kuchma and Frisch, the meeting was attended by Ukraine’s representative at the economic subgroup Igor Veremiy and head of Ukraine’s state agency on Donbass’ recovery Vadim Chernysh, according to the press service.
Several days ago, Yuri Tandit, an advisor to the head of Ukraine’s Security Service, said Ukraine was ready to release more than 30 people as part of prisoner exchange with the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR). "It was announced on January 13 that the next round of prisoner exchange can be completed by January 20. We are ready to hand more than 30 people to LPR and DPR," Tandit told "112. Ukraina" TV channel. In his words, as many as 133 Ukrainian citizens were kept prisoners while 2,998 people had been already freed.
The Contact Group on the settlement of the situation in eastern Ukraine agreed on January 13 that the sides will exchange more than 50 prisoners by January 20. However, no prisoner exchange followed. After the Contact Group meeting on January 20, OSCE’s envoy Martin Sajdik said that direct negotiations were underway between Kiev, Luhansk and Donetsk.
LPR envoy to the Contact Group Vladislav Deinego said that the self-proclaimed republics had submitted their proposals on the next prisoner exchange "clearly, in full compliance with the OSCE requirements but Ukraine turned them down." The OSCE also came up with its own proposal on the exchange, he added. "This is not exactly what we wanted but we consider it acceptable nonetheless," Deinego said. Before the meeting in Minsk, DPR envoy to the Contact Group Denis Pushilin said that Ukraine was trying to manipulate the number of prisoners and was reluctant to release militiamen.
Prisoner exchanges in the all-for-all format is one of the key provisions of the Package of Measures on the implementation of the Minsk agreements that was signed in the Belarusian capital Minsk on February 12 after marathon talks between the leaders of Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine.
Apart from that, the 13-point Package of Measures on implementation of the September 2014 Minsk agreements, known as Minsk-2, in particular included an agreement on cessation of fire from February 15, withdrawal of heavy armaments, as well as measures on long-term political settlement of the situation in Ukraine, including establishment of working subgroups as priority tasks.