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Russia's envoy: Prisoner exchange issue in Donbass can only be resolved by law on amnesty

February 20, 17:57 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Earlier today Kiev and the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic exchanged prisoners on a "3 for 6" basis in Maryinka near the contact line
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Russia’s envoy to the Contact Group on settlement in Ukraine’s east Boris Gryzlov

Russia’s envoy to the Contact Group on settlement in Ukraine’s east Boris Gryzlov

© Valeriy Sharifulin/TASS

MOSCOW, February 20. /TASS/. The law on amnesty should be adopted in Ukraine to exchange prisoners on "all for all" basis, Russia’s envoy to the Contact Group on settlement in Ukraine’s east Boris Gryzlov said on Saturday.

Earlier today Kiev and the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) exchanged prisoners on a "3 for 6" basis in Maryinka near the contact line. This was the first prisoner exchange between the sides since November 2015.

Six prisoners held by Kiev were handed to DPR human rights ombudsperson Daria Morozova and defense minister Vladimir Kononov. Among the freed prisoners were five militiamen and priest Father Nikon detained in the summer of 2015. DPR handed three prisoners to Kiev as well - two signalers from Ukrainian Armed Forces and one militant from the Donbass battalion.

Commenting on the prisoner swap, Gryzlov said: "This is a modest but very important result of the Contact Group meeting on February 17. We agreed on resuming exchange of prisoners and illegally detained persons. I am confident that we will be able to give an impetus to this process and make the mechanism work."

The problem of prisoner exchange can be solved in the broad sense only by consistent implementation of the Minsk Agreements, he added. "This means to free all prisoners and illegally detained persons on an ‘all for all’ basis. And broad amnesty is required to do that," Gryzlov concluded.

Prisoner exchange is envisaged by the Minsk accords signed on 12 February 2015, after negotiations in the so-called "Normandy format" in the Belarusian capital Minsk, bringing together Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

The Minsk accords also accords envisage ceasefire, weaponry withdrawal, local election in Donbass, constitutional reform in Ukraine and establishing working sub-groups on security, political, economy and humanitarian components of the Minsk accords.

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