The prisoner transfer announced by the puppet pro-Russian authorities of non-government controlled territories of Donbas has been suspended. The exact number of illegally detained people whom the militants intend to transfer to Ukraine is still unknown, the head of the Ukrainian delegation to the Trilateral Contact Group on Donbas (TCG) Leonid Kravchuk stated.
“This issue has already stopped, and it is very simple. The plane supposed to bring people did not take off. Not because there is no fuel or anything else. A simple question arises: who is on the plane? Do these people have passports? Are they included in the relevant register? This is not just a horseback riding trip. It is a very long and interstate route. First, they fly from Donetsk to Rostov-on-Don, then from Rostov-on-Don to Minsk, and then from Minsk to Ukraine. This is already an impossible task,” the first President of Ukraine said.
As known, on 16 January, representatives of the militants said that they were ready to unilaterally transfer some convicted Ukrainian citizens through the mediation of one of the leaders of the Opposition Platform – For Life party, Viktor Medvedchuk, who is known for his non-recognition of Russian aggression against Ukraine and has close personal relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Preliminary information about the transfer of nine people appeared. According to Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Liudmyla Denisova, the so-called “Luhansk People’s Republic” is going to release three people, and the “Donetsk People’s Republic” – six.
On 20 January, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine stated that the so-called “exchange” had been specially arranged by the Russian Federation. Kyiv accused Moscow of deciding to transfer the prisoners to Medvedchuk rather than to the official authorities in order to “strike at the Normandy format and the Trilateral Contact Group which conduct systematic work to release detainees.”
According to Serhiy Harmash, a representative of certain districts of Donetsk region to the TCG from Ukraine, the initiative of the Russian side to unilaterally transfer detainees to Ukrainian territory without the participation of Ukrainian representatives in the “Minsk process” is not new, and Russia is doing this for political, not humanitarian purposes.
“The issue of this exchange has not been raised by any of the parties at all, since this is not an exchange but a private initiative. This fact can be regarded as the victory of Mrs. Denisova,” Harmash stressed.
Meanwhile, on 21 January, the press service of the Opposition Platform – For Life party published Medvedchuk’s appeal to Ivan Bakanov, the head of the Security Service of Ukraine, in which the politician asked for permission to enter the non-government controlled territory. The letter notes that the politician intends to accompany four Ukrainian citizens leaving the occupied territory through the Mayorsk checkpoint, instead of nine people, as the ombudsperson mentioned.
The letter mentions the names of illegally detained women whom the militants are ready to release: 57-year-old Natalia Savchenko from Luhansk, 30-year-old Kateryna Kotenko from Stakhaniv, 42-year-old Natalia Statsenko and 47-year-old Svitlana Dovhal from Donetsk.
According to the latest information, all four hostages have been returned to the places of detention.