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Ukraine Prisoner Exchange Brings Hope

Dec. 28, 2017 (EIRNS)—The success of Ukraine’s largest-ever prisoner exchange yesterday, in time for New Year’s and Orthodox Christmas Jan. 7, despite many problems, has brought hope for a rapid exchange of all remaining prisoners, as called for by the Minsk Accords, and for a final resolution of the Ukraine tragedy which was triggered by Obama and Victoria Nuland in 2013-14. The swap took place at the contact line near Gorlovka. Kiev released 233 prisoners and the Donbass republics 73.

Despite serious charges of bad faith by Donbass representatives against Kiev, the fact the exchange came off at all is sparking optimism about settlement of the conflict overall. Ukraine’s deputy minister for internally displaced people and territories outside Kiev’s control, Yuri Grymchak, said that another prisoner exchange could take place within a couple of months. "We have such a hope," he said in an interview with the 112 TV channel. Grymchak noted that Kiev has information about 100 people kept in Donbass. "But we cannot confirm all of them. The key task is to find these people in the non-controlled territories," he said. Viktor Medvedchuk, the leader of the Ukrainian Choice public movement and Kiev’s representative to the humanitarian subgroup of the Contact Group, said that all the prisoners in Donbass will be released during stage two of the current prisoner exchange, when the "everyone for everyone" formula is applied as stipulated by the Minsk accords

Leonid Kalashnikov, head of Russia’s State Duma (lower house) Committee on CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Relations with Compatriots, told Tass that the exchange can be a step towards a real settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. "Of course, this is a very serious step, all the more so because church representatives took part in preparing it," he noted. (The final agreement was mediated by Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill at a monastery north of Moscow.)

"This makes it possible to bring peoples closer to each other at the mental and spiritual level. As for the prospects for further settlement, of course, this step makes it closer."

According to Kalashnikov,

"both amnesty and ’all for all’ exchanges are possible after that, as well as the necessary legislative decisions within the framework of the Minsk agreements.... If we continue to move along this path, the situation will be resolved. These steps contribute to that,"

he noted.