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Ukrainian armed forces, Donetsk Republic hand over more than 900 prisoners

The Ukrainian armed forces brought mostly civilians for the exchanges of prisoners, while the Donetsk Republic handed over only servicemen to the Ukrainian side

DONETSK, January 11. /TASS/. The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and the Ukrainian armed forces had carried out nine exchanges of captives since the beginning of fighting in Donbass, and the tenth could take place in the next two weeks, the republic’s human rights commissioner told the Donetsk news agency on Sunday.

Daria Morozova said 404 people were handed over to the Ukrainian side and 25 people more were released as a good will gesture. The Donetsk Republic received 500 people.

The Ukrainian armed forces brought mostly civilians for the exchanges of prisoners, while the Donetsk Republic handed over only servicemen to the Ukrainian side, she said. The civilians, including many women, did not belong to the militia. They were seized from their homes.

All the people released from Ukrainian captivity could rest and undertake rehabilitation, the commissioner said.

Released people said about mass abuses committed by the Ukrainian side. Ukrainian national guards insulted and tortured militia members and also civilians.

It was known that detained people were beaten up. But national guards also used electric shock to torture prisoners, “branded” captives and made injections with unknown substances. Many of those who were held in Ukrainian captivity have traumas and injures that will remain for lifetime, the human rights commissioner said.

Even those who were in captivity only for four days return with injured kidneys, broken ribs, brain concussion and swastikas burnt on the skin. Ukrainian fighters did not provide medical assistance even for heavily wounded people. National guards did everything to add sufferings for prisoners, former captives said.

In late December, the Donetsk Republic’s chief negotiator for the talks in Minsk, Vice-Speaker of the People’s Council Denis Pushilin, said the republic’s authorities had asked the OSCE and the International Red Cross Committee to conduct an inquiry into abuses committed against prisoners in Ukraine’s territory.

People who were in captivity in the territory controlled by the Ukrainian armed forces return haggard. “We see in what bad condition they are… Many have traces of tortures on their bodies,” Pushilin said after the exchange of captives carried out on December 26. “We have proposed the OSCE and the Red Cross that their specialists should participate in medical examination of people released from captivity. Then, based on received data, a large-scale inquiry should be conducted," Pushilin said, adding that letters with the proposal were already sent to international organizations, and the Donetsk republic’s authorities were waiting for a response.

Since the beginning of the armed conflict in Donbass, 2,251 people, including 35 children under 18, have been killed in the Donetsk region, Morozova said, citing the official data.

She also told the Donetsk news agency that more than 7,200 infrastructure installations had been damaged or destroyed.

The city of Donetsk has been hit most severely, where 4,073 infrastructure facilities have been destroyed.

Makeevka has suffered severe damage from Ukrainian armed forces’ shellings that hit 956 installations in the city.

The human rights commissioner said 4,472 apartment buildings and houses were destroyed in the region in 2014. Shellings also destroyed 445 electro-transmission line sections and stations, 136 heat facilities and 30 water supply, 1,469 gas supply and eleven sewage systems.

Social facilities were also seriously damaged - shells hit 50 hospitals and medical centres, 209 schools and other educational institutions and some cultural centres, Morozova said.