In an interview with Radio Liberty, Russian lawyer Mark Feygin said that the exchange of prisoners between Ukraine and separatists in the Donbas will continue until the end of 2017 "because of Kyiv’s political reasons".
Feygin reiterated that the agreement on the exchange of prisoners under the "300 for 80" plan had been achieved as early as 2016. The exchange was planned for the autumn summit of the Normandy Four countries in Berlin. At that moment, the lawyer notes, a "principled agreement with Moscow" will be reached on this issue.
According to Feygin, the readiness of Ukraine to transfer more than 300 people from the list of prisoners in exchange for 88 people testifies to an unstable situation that Ukrainian President is finding himself.
"I think the exchange can take place, because Poroshenko's internal situation is unstable. He needs to show that he is taking steps to pull people out of captivity. And Moscow is well aware of this, while participating in the creation of such a situation, directly or indirectly," he stated.
Feygin is certain that in the list of people whom Ukraine is ready to transfer, there are Russian citizens fighting for separatists, and former employees of the special unit of the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs, Berkut.
"There are former Berkut special police members in the exchange list and others who does not have any relation to the events in the Donbas, and I'm sure that some of more than 300 people are those Russian citizens who are fighting in the territory of another state. It [the exchange] should not apply to them at all," the lawyer commented.
At the same time, the First Deputy Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada and envoy to the Trilateral Contact Group's humanitarian subgroup on the Donbas from Ukraine, Iryna Herashchenko, repeatedly pointed to the Ukraine’s refusal to include former Berkut police members on exchange list.
Earlier, the leaders of the DPR and LPR (Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics), Alexandr Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky, announced their readiness to exchange prisoners with Ukraine under the "300 for 88 formula" in the separatists’ favor. Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with the leaders of the separatist republics in which the subject of a prisoners exchange before the New Year was discussed.