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OSCE envoy calls for ensuring conditions for prisoner swap in Donbass

No steps in this direction were taken for the past 14 months

KIEV, December 26. /TASS/. The parties to the Donbass conflict should ensure appropriate conditions for the prisoner exchange scheduled to be held on December 27, OSCE Special Representative to the Contact Group on resolving the situation in eastern Ukraine Martin Sajdik said in a statement available to TASS.

"I welcome the agreement to exchange detained persons on December 27, 2017, reached by the parties to the conflict," the statement reads. He stressed that the upcoming prisoner swap "is an important step that the prisoners and their families have been waiting for". It "has a symbolic meaning ahead of the holiday season," he added.

Sajdik also called on the parties to the conflict to "ensure appropriate conditions and show respect for everyone expected to be exchanged."

On Monday, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill said following a meeting with DPR head Alexander Zakharchenko, acting head of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) Leonid Pasechnik and Kiev’s representative to the Contact Group’s humanitarian subgroup Viktor Medvedchuk, that Kiev and Donbass had agreed on all the prisoner exchange conditions. The swap will take place on December 27, with 306 prisoners exchanged for 74. The exact time and place will be announced on the same day for security reasons. The Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements, singed on February 12, 2015, stipulates that the parties to the Donbass conflict should carry out an all-for-all prisoner exchange. However, no steps in this direction were taken for the past 14 months.

In mid-November, Medvedchuk asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to facilitate the prisoner exchange between the parties to the conflict. According to Medvedchuk, Ukraine is ready to release 306 prisoners and expects Donetsk and Lugansk to release 74 people in return. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said later that Putin had held telephone conversations with the heads of the Donbass republics who supported the initiative.