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Ukrainian envoy: Russia rejects exchange initiative

Political prisoners are not to be released by the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Ukrainian envoy: Russia rejects exchange initiative
Photo: EPA/UPG

Russia has rejected Kyiv's proposal to exchange 23 Russians held in Ukraine for Ukrainian political prisoners detained in Russia, the first deputy speaker of the Ukrainian parliament and Ukraine's representative at the humanitarian subgroup at the Minsk talks, Iryna Herashchenko, has said.

"I in the humanitarian group and our representatives at the trilateral contact group asked Russians a direct and obvious question: what is the Russian answer to Ukraine's initiative to transfer 23 convicted Russians to secure a release of Ukrainians from Russian prisons. We once again addressed Russians with the initiative to have the convicted Ukrainians released by the start of the World Cup. The Russians has this crazy position (literally): Russia is not a party to the conflict therefore the issue of Ukrainians' release from Russian prisons and of Russians from Ukrainians ones cannot be discussed in Minsk. But the 'republics' include these Russians in the list because they 'helped them to fight' and lived in Donbas before 2014… We had to ask an additional question: does this mean that Russia 'abandons its own people' and in fact refuses to protect its citizens? There is no answer," she said.

The last big exchange of prisoners in Donbas took place in December 2017. Ukraine sent out 233 people and received 73 in exchange. The parties agreed then that the process should be continued.

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