Representatives of the occupation authorities of the non-government controlled territories of Donbas have announced the unilateral transfer of a group of detainees to the Ukrainian side.

According to Russian media outlets, citing a statement made by the puppet authorities, the exact number of people is currently unknown but this group appears to include women, the elderly, and those with serious illnesses. All of them did not take part in hostilities.

At the same time, the Russian media notes an important detail – the illegally detained people will be released “through the mediation” of Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk, a relative of Russian President Vladimir Putin who is the godfather of Medvedchuk’s daughter.

Representatives of the occupiers in the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) on Donbas Vladyslav Deineho and Natalia Nikanorova said that they had informed Medvedchuk about the transfer with a letter dated 15 January. A “goodwill gesture” is planned to be made before 19 January, the Day of Baptism of the Christ.

At the same time, Leonid Kravchuk, the head of the Ukrainian delegation to the TCG, called such statements made by “the leadership of puppet quasi-state formations and Mr. Medvedchuk’s actions synchronised with them as another attempt to evade international agreements at the highest state level and Russia’s commitments as a party to the conflict.”

Kravchuk stressed that the return of Ukrainian citizens to the government-controlled territory should be welcomed, but individuals do not have the authority to interfere in interstate and international settlement of armed conflicts.

“I cannot recall a precedent when a legal entity transfers citizens of the state to a certain individual. The return of Ukrainian citizens will be carried out in accordance with international law and Ukrainian legislation. All negotiations and procedures for the return of Ukrainian citizens detained by the Russian party to the conflict are carried out by the authorised state bodies of Ukraine within the framework of political agreements adopted in the Normandy format,” the first President of Ukraine said.

In this regard, Kravchuk views the transfer of Ukrainian citizens from the occupied Donbas to Medvedchuk as an attempt to evade existing agreements.

Meanwhile, the speaker of the Ukrainian delegation to the TCG, Oleksiy Arestovych, wrote on his Facebook page that the special services will verify people who are going to be “returned” to Ukraine by Russian-backed militants with the help of Medvedchuk. In addition, he stressed that “the passage and meeting of these persons on the contact line, if it occurs, will be organised by the authorised state bodies of Ukraine.”

Bohdan Marusyak

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