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Kiev ready to swap prisoners not guilty of violating Ukrainian law, says envoy

Earlier in the day, the Security Service of Ukraine said Kiev was ready for a prisoner swap

KIEV, November 16. /TASS/. Kiev is ready for a prisoner swap with the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, but only in compliance with all statutes of the Ukrainian law, Kiev’s envoy to the Contact Group’s humanitarian subgroup told 112. Ukraine television on Thursday.

"Ukraine is ready to hand over those individuals whom it will be possible [to release] under the Ukrainian legislation, where no violations of our legislation or our legal procedures are involved," said Irina Gerashchenko.

She said the Ukrainian side is looking into different mechanisms for prisoner release. "We have verified those who don’t want to return, confirmed readiness by the Ukrainian side to hand over to the other side all those among the requested whom it will be possible to release under the Ukrainian law," she stressed.

Gerashchenko also citied data by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), under which 157 Ukrainians are held prisoner in the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, saying the Ukrainian side has confirmed 88. "First of all these are military," she added.

Earlier in the day, Ukraine’s SBU spokesperson Yelena Gitlyanskaya said Kiev was ready for a prisoner swap.

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Viktor Medvedchuk, the leader of the Ukrainian Choice-People’s Right social movement, who asked the president to support his initiative on a prisoner swap between Ukraine and the self-proclaimed republics.

Medvedchuk stated that "at the present moment, Ukraine has difficulties in complying with this principle - objectively under the current legislation this principle cannot be implemented in respect to all, first of all those who are held liable for especially grave crimes".

"In spite of this, a big number of people are ready for the swap today, and Ukraine is ready now to release 306 people, expecting the release of 74 people by Donetsk and Lugansk. This could be done before the New Year and Christmas holidays," he said.

Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said later that Putin had held telephone conversations with DPR head Alexander Zakharcheko and LPR leader Igor Plotnitsky. According to Peskov, both leaders supported the initiative on the whole but pointed out that the issue should be further discussed with Kiev’s representatives.