Russian representatives in the negotiations of the Tripartite Contact Group in Minsk for the Donbas settlement have once again refused to exchange 36 Russian nationals – detainees and those convicted for crimes against Ukraine – on Ukrainian political prisoners who are illegally held by Russia in the occupied Crimea and across the Russian Federation, according to First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the country's representative in the humanitarian subgroup in Minsk, Iryna Gerashchenko.
"Today, on the fourth anniversary of the signing of Minsk Agreements [the Minsk Protocol of September 5, 2014], the Ukrainian side is seeing complete disregard for the deal by Russia and its puppets. The process of hostage release is blocked. Representatives of Russia in the humanitarian subgroup refused to take Russian nationals from Ukrainian prisons in exchange them for our political prisoners [in Russia], saying that 'Russia has nothing to do with the conflict, and that they are not there.' That is, their Motherland officially gave up on the Russians held in Ukrainian prisons," Gerashchenko wrote on Facebook.
"We will continue to appeal to both Russia and the world – no country has the right to turn down its citizens," the Ukrainian envoy added.
Also, she said, Russia refused to provide their expert to create a mechanism for searching for missing persons.
Separately, she said that as early as on Saturday, September 8, OSCE coordinator Tony Frisch will visit the occupied Donbas and "try to gain access to Ukrainian hostages."
As UNIAN reported earlier, the Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights Lyudmila Denisova wrote to her Russian counterpart Tatyana Moskalkova about the Ukrainian initiative to simultaneously release Ukrainian political prisoners illegally detained in the occupied Crimea and Russia, as well as 36 Russian detainees and convicts held in Ukraine.
On August 21, Gerashchenko said that Moskalkova rejected Ukraine's initiative to meet and discuss in Minsk the exchange of 36 Russian nationals sentenced for crimes against Ukraine for Ukrainian political prisoners who are illegally held in Russia. According to Gerashchenko, 22 Russians have already appealed to the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, with the request to exchange them for Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia.