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Parties to Donbass conflict to approve prisoner lists this week

May 24, 20:22 UTC+3 MINSK

Members of the humanitarian subgroup of the Contact Group on Ukraine should approve the final prisoner lists until the end of the week

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MINSK, May 24. /TASS/. Members of the humanitarian subgroup of the Contact Group on Ukraine should approve the final prisoner lists until the end of the week, OSCE Special Representative to the Contact Group Martin Sajdik said following the Wednesday meeting in Minsk. According to him, the lists should include prisoners held on both sides of the line of contact.

"This is a complicated process because there are various categories of prisoners," he said. "The more we tackle these issues the more we realize that the parties have come close to verifying prisoners," Sajdik added.

The verification of prisoners is aimed at finding out if prisoners wish to return to Donbass or stay on the Kiev-controlled territory of Ukraine after they are released. The procedure was under consideration for a long time as part of the Minsk talks. The all-for-all prisoner exchange is one of the main provisions of the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements.

On May 12, Kiev announced that the verification process had been completed byt the self-proclaimed Donbass republics rejected this allegation. On May 14, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko claimed that all prisoners involved in the Donbass conflict, who were being held by Ukraine, had refused to return to the territories not controlled by Kiev. However, according to Olga Kobtseva, head of the working group on prisoner swap in the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), Poroshenko’s statement was not true.

In the January to May period of 2017, the civilian death rate in Donbass increased by 120% in comparison with the same period in 2016, he went on. 

He expressed deep concern over the deteriorating situation in Donbass adding that early May had proved to be one of the most deadliest times recently.

"Today, I would like to draw attention to the gloomy statistics provided by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights," Sajdik said. "The numbers are only growing, the civilian death rate has increased by 120%, which is reflected in the reports of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission," he added.

The OSCE special representative pointed out that in many respects, this was a result of a delay in the demining activities, as well as of the use of heavy weapons in five hotspots. "I would like to note that 85% of ceasefire violations occur in Avdeyevka, Yasinovataya, Maruipol and Svetlodarsk," Sajdik said.

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