The authorities of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) don’t accept Kiev’s initiative for a new prisoner swap that envisages only a restricted formula of "6 to 16," DPR Ombudsperson Darya Morozova told the Izvestia daily on Wednesday.
"A war in Donbass has continued for almost four years, but Kiev refuses to comply with its commitments. Nevertheless, it is necessary now to reach an agreement on the exchange of those people who have been coordinated by the sides. However, we are categorically against the Ukrainian proposal of February, 2018," Darya Morozova said.
"Kiev suggests exchanging only six Ukrainians for 16 residents of Donbass, while we seek to return at least 81 people," the ombudsperson said ahead of a new meeting of the Contact Group for the settlement in Ukraine.
She believes that the "all-for-all" prisoner swap envisaged in the Minsk accords is unlikely to take place before the end of the conflict in Donbass. First Ukraine must pass a law on amnesty in line with its commitments, while the Ukrainian troops must stop persecuting civilians for political reasons, she said.
Morozova said that at the moment the DPR demands from Ukraine to put on the swap list 297 residents of Donbass held prisoner in Ukraine, while Kiev confirms the existence of only 81 captives. "The Ukrainian authorities refuse to recognize the detention of another 216 people," she pointed out. "Meanwhile, the Ukrainian side searches for about 115 people on the territory of Donbass. The DPR has confirmed the whereabouts of 14 of them," she added.
She emphasized that the DPR holds "only military and spies whose guilt was proven". "We don’t imprison people who stand with the Ukrainian side and say this," she explained. Within this context she listed the arrest by Ukrainian military of a 69-year-old man who left Donbass for shopping purposes. "Then these people are found on the list of prisoners for an exchange," she stated.
On December 27, the parties to the Donbass conflict conducted a prisoner exchange on the line of contact near the city of Gorlovka. Kiev handed 233 prisoners over to the self-proclaimed Donbass republics and received 73 prisoners in return. Yuri Grymchak, Ukraine’s Deputy Minister for areas out of Kiev’s control and internally displaced people, said that the next prisoner exchange may be held in the coming two months.