Ukraine offers Russia to exchange Alexander Korinkov, Sergei Glondar and Bogdan Pantyushenko, Ukrainian prisoners of war, for three Russians convicted of crimes in the Donbas, stated Iryna Heraschenko, Ukraine’s representative in the Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk.
Special forces soldiers Korenkov and Glondar were captured by pro-Russian militants in February 2015, when the detachment was leaving Debaltseve. Tank operator Patyushenko was captured in January 2015 near the Donetsk airport.
“On the terrible anniversary of the violation of the Minsk agreements by Russia, as well as the shooting and capture of Debaltseve, we launched an initiative to state that we are ready to hand over three Russians convicted of crimes in the Donbas in exchange for S. Glondar, B. Pantyushenko and A. Korinkov, heroes who have been held in Donetsk for four years,” Heraschenko wrote on her Facebook page.
However, Russia decidedly refuses to discuss the exchange of prisoners in Minsk, arguing that Moscow “is waiting for a change of power in Ukraine” and the demands the release of convicted Russians without preconditions.
“Russians can continue to write tearful letters to Putin under the hashtag “they're not there”. The Russian Federation has abandoned them. Russia has categorically refused to discuss the exchange of Russians for the Kremlin Ukrainian political prisoners. Both within the framework of the humanitarian subgroup and the Trilateral Contact Group,” the politician said.
According to Heraschenko, the OSCE coordinators do not contribute to the intensification of negotiations on the exchange of prisoners, insisting on the need for “bilateral negotiations”.
“Instead of publishing weird and unrealistic “peace plans”, it would be better to make more efforts to return at least one hostage, to stop fearing the Kremlin, to speak up and address the Russian Federation with a proposal to mediate in the process of releasing the Russian criminals in exchange for the political prisoners,” she added.
The issue of the prisoners held in the separate districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions was also discussed in Minsk. Iryna Heraschenko emphasized that there are reasons to fear that some Ukrainians could have been tortured in prisons in the territories of the Donbas which are not under Ukraine’s control.
“We provided the OSCE with information about 13 citizens who were included in the exchange lists during the years, but, for unknown reasons, their names disappeared from the lists of those who have been identified and detained,” Heraschenko noted.
Heraschenko said that Ukraine demands full information about the fate of these detainees, as well as the fate of more than 70 Ukrainian political prisoners held in Russia and Russia-occupied territories.
Yevhen Marchuk, a representative of Ukraine in the Trilateral Contact Group, called on the OSCE and the International Committee of the Red Cross to immediately visit the Ukrainian hostages in prisons in the occupied territories.
“In order to force the Russian Federation to return our prisoners, we need tough sanctions rather than new ‘peace plans’," summed up Iryna Heraschenko.