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Kiev, Donbass agree on all conditions for prisoner exchange

The prisoner exchange will take place on December 27

MOSCOW, December 25. /TASS/. The prisoner exchange between Kiev and the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics will be held on December 27, the DPR’s leader Alexander Zakharchenko said on Monday.

"Today a crucial event has taken place, the last conditions have been agreed and on December 27 the exchange by the 306 to 74 formula will be held," Zakharchenko said after a meeting with the leader of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic, Leonid Pasechnik, and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia in Moscow’s Svyato-Danilov Monastery.

Zakharchenko expressed hope that Kiev will honor the conditions of the prisoner swap and stressed the great role of the Russian Orthodox Church and Patriarch Kirill in solving this issue.

The Lugansk republic’s leader also said the republic was "ready to exchange prisoners on the conditions and in line with the agreements reached at today’s meeting." "We confirm our readiness to hold peace talks and resolve the conflict in Donbass by peaceful means," Pasechnik said.

"Today at the Svyato-Danilov Monastery the process has been completed on agreeing on all details concerning the exchange of prisoners between the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s republics and Ukraine," the Patriarch confirmed.

The Patriarch stressed that not all prisoners have been included in the lists, voicing hope that the dialogue will continue. "I have high hopes that this first stage will continue by further efforts on releasing all captives," he said.

"The Russian church regrets about what is happening in Ukraine now when a brother raises a hand against his brother," the Patriarch said, calling to find a peaceful solution to the Ukrainian conflict as soon as possible.

The Patriarch stressed the role of Metropolitan Onufriy of Ukraine’s Orthodox Church in achieving the consensus and thanked all those who took part in coordinating the exchange.

Prisoner swap is one of the key points of the Minsk peace deal on Ukraine. The Minsk agreements, signed by members of the Contact Group in February 2015 and approved by leaders of the Normandy Four group (Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine), lay the foundation for a peaceful settlement in Donbass.

However, no prisoner exchanges have been held over the past 14 months. In mid-November, leader of the Ukrainian Choice - People’s Right Viktor Medvedchuk asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to assist carrying out the swap. He said Ukraine was ready to release 306 people by the New Year holidays and expected that Donetsk and Lugansk would set free 74 people.

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Russian president had a phone conversation with leaders of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics, who backed the initiative. During the December 12 video conference, Kiev called to again verify the lists of prisoners to ask if they wish to switch sides.