I read Oleh Sentsov's statement that heroes should be returned, but not to the detriment of the values they espoused. I will not mention here, what led to Sentsov's return. I just honestly liked his opinion. And so, perhaps, the most debatable question today, as hostages return, is: what is more valuable to Ukrainians – humanity or punishment?
I am not a fan of the idea that punishment could solve any problems – not only worldview problems, but even criminal ones. Punishment is the appearance of a solution, not a solution as such. But I respect people who think differently, because it is the point of view of a different value system, a matter of debate, not an accusation.
Whatever it is, both values – humanity and punishment – lie in the plain of emotional intelligence, so they both relate to Ukrainians. Both are important because they give a sense of wholesomeness to at least some process – the sense, not the actual wholesomeness. It is important for people's minds to have at least some symbolic foundation to rely on.
The hate vector is artificially channeled solely onto the "soldiers", rather than those who have wage war or conceive violence
So, the past five years have shown that there will be no wholesomeness in prosecution of perpetrators in the Maidan shootings. Moreover, the very prosecution for crimes and murders is focused solely on the perpetrators – former law enforcement officers, low rank "Berkut troops", not on those who stood behind the atrocities, those whom people protested.
The Revolution was not against the Berkut troops or other police operatives. They only accumulated public outrage. Just as Russia is now trying to focus the wrath of the Ukrainians on the residents of the occupied Donbas or "militants", only to fend for themselves.
It is like the bloody Donbas, which artificially overshadowed the problem of Crimea occupation.
Of course, this does not mean that the perpetrators are not guilty. This only means that the hate vector is artificially channeled solely onto the "soldiers", rather than those who wage war or conceive violence.
And finally, if there is a choice between killing an enemy and saving a friend, I will choose the latter.
But these are just reflections on the exchange as such.
In the context of further developments, the exchange should not be seen as legitimizing further surrender of sovereignty. It is not a justification for the unilateral concessions on the part of Ukraine and not a tool to confirm that the occupation authorities in Donbas are independent players.
Bohdan Petrenko is a Deputy Director of the Ukrainian Institute for the Extremism Studies