Justice ministry: Talks between Savchenko and self-proclaimed republics out of law
Ukrainian Deputy Justice Minister Natalia Sevostyanova has commented on a meeting between Ukrainian Member of Parliament Nadiia Savchenko and militant leaders of the self-proclaimed republics in Donbas, saying that unauthorized individuals' participation in such talks is not legal, according to Channel 112 Ukraine.
"In my opinion it is inadmissible. All talks should be within the determined circle of persons appointed by the president," she told Channel 112.
"There cannot be any legal relations with the so-called self-proclaimed republics in Luhansk and Donetsk regions, and we don't plan any. We do not recognize the fact of this occupation, we understand this is temporary occupation [in the areas] where the ATO [Anti-Terrorist Operation] is under way," she said.
As was earlier reported, Savchenko secretly met with militant leaders of the "Donetsk People's Republic" ("DPR") and "Luhansk People's Republic" ("LPR") in Minsk to conduct talks on the release of prisoners of war.
Read also"DPR", "LPR" leaders decide to hand over to Ukraine two captive women through SavchenkoThe so-called leaders of the "LPR" and "DPR" Igor Plotnitsky and Alexander Zakharchenko said they were ready to free two Ukrainian women from militant captivity and hand them over to the Ukrainian side with Nadiia Savchenko's mediation.
Following Ukraine's decision to release 15 Donbas convicts, which is now at its final state of preparation, the militant leaders announced that on the New Year's eve they decided to "unconditionally convey two women, Anzhelika Presniakova and Olha Svorak," to the Ukrainian side. They emphasized specifically that they were intending to do so with the mediation of Nadiia Savchenko, "hoping to intensify the process of rescuing our citizens from captivity, with the hope that in the coming year, they will reunite with their families and friends," a pro-militant website quoted the statement.
As UNIAN reported recently, Taras Kolodiy, the last survived from among the Ukrainian soldiers who defended Donetsk airport, also known as "cyborgs," was freed on December 18, 2016, after almost two years' captivity in Donbas. Orthodox priests who participated in the negotiations on Kolodiy's release claimed it had not been a swap, as his release was the result of agreement on freeing at least one Ukrainian soldier by Saint Nicholas' Day, observed by Ukrainian Orthodox Church members on December 19.