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DPR, LPR want guarantees militiamen to be freed in exchange for Ukrainian servicemen

February 03, 2016, 15:39 UTC+3 KIEV

Representatives of the self-proclaimed republics note they returned many prisoners unilaterally last year and now want to get back several hundreds of people while they can return considerably less

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KIEV, February 3. /TASS/. In order to resume prisoner exchange, it is necessary to find a formula that will take into consideration the fact that Donbass already handed to Kiev most prisoners, Ukraine’s envoy to Contact Group seeking the resolution of conflict in the south-east Viktor Medvedchuk told TASS on Wednesday.

Representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics (DPR and LPR) note that "they returned many prisoners unilaterally last year and now found themselves in the situation when they want to get back several hundreds of people while they can return considerably less prisoners," Medvedchuk said. "That is why they suspended prisoner exchange at the end of last year. They wanted to figure out how to receive guarantees that everyone they are interested in will be freed while they can hand over only several dozens in exchange," he added.

This problem is being discussed at negotiations, Ukraine’s envoy to Contact Group went on. "It is discussed regularly, in daily mode and not only at meetings in Minsk, at session of the humanitarian sub-group or Contact Group," he noted.

Medvedchuk reminded that DPR and LPR have released 392 prisoners since December 2014. "Over this time we have freed considerably less persons held prisoner by Ukraine," he said.

DPR and LPR are currently "searching for and trying to return several hundreds of people held in Ukraine," the envoy added. However, "these people cannot be handed over as part of prisoner exchange because some of them were convicted and are serving their sentences, some of them were arrested and are under investigation," he noted. Ukraine, in turn, wants to get back only 130 people held prisoner in Donbass, he concluded.

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

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