Gorlovka, Dec 27 – DAN. The the major prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Donbass Republics in the history of the armed conflict has been finalized today, DAN correspondent reports.
The exact number of swapped detainees is to be specified.
The DPR Ombudswoman Daria Morozova told journalists that the Republic had brought 58 people to the exchange location, though one of the detainees, a former Ukrainian servicewoman, refused to go back to Ukraine.
Morozova also emphasized that the exchange did not follow the 'all for all' formula.
"On January 18 after the meeting of the humanitarian working group in Minsk, we shall raise the issue of the second stage of the swap as we have not received all our people. Currently 58 already confirmed people are held in Ukraine; and there were 18 new detentions last month. The exchange efforts will continue."
The exchange took place at the Mayorsk checkpoint north of frontline Gorlovka today. It took several hours to complete all the procedures.
LPR handed over 16 people to Ukraine. Kiev gave back 75, though two of them refused to return to the LPR and remained on the Kiev-controlled territory.
Before that, the exchange between Donbass and Ukraine took place in the autumn 2016, more than a year ago. Since that time, all attempts to coordinate a new swop failed as Kiev protracted talks creating problems and pretexts. The telephone call from Russian president Vladimir Putin to DPR and leaders broke the ice on November 15, as the initiative of Ukrainian special representative for humanitarian issues Viktor Medvedchuk concerning the POWs swop was discussed. Shortly after, the DPR announced it is willing for the exchange which is to take place before the year ends.
On December 25, the DPR Head Alexander Zakharchenko had a meeting with the Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus Kirill; the DPR leader confirmed the republic is ready to carry out the swap. The next day, he signed a pardon decree concerning the persons to be returned to Ukraine.*ot