Families of Ukrainian political prisoners rallied outside the President's Office on Thursday demanding renewed efforts to free Ukrainian captives from jails in Russia and the occupied Crimea.
Some dozen mothers, wives, and other close relatives of Ukrainian political prisoners came to the President's Office for a "Freedom to Ukrainian prisoners" rally, according to an UNIAN correspondent.
Protesters carried photos of their loved ones who are being illegally held in prisons across Russia and the occupied Crimea. They demand that the work resume of the team at the President's Office dealing with the issues prisoners of war, those whose whereabouts remain unknown, those missing in action, political prisoners, and civilian hostages.
Families of political prisoners are also asking the president to meet with them and hear them out.
Protesters seek that the standing commission under the Cabinet of Ministers operate in accordance with the law on the status of missing persons, and that a bill be submitted to parliament on social and legal support for prisoners of war, political prisoners, and hostages.
Liudmyla Shumkova, an aunt of political prisoner Oleksandr Shumkov, told an UNIAN correspondent that, according to various estimates, 94 to 115 Ukrainian political prisoners are being illegally held in Russia and Crimea.
She says the issue of the POW swap is still being discussed at the talks of the Trilateral Contact Group, while the issue of political prisoners, i.e. citizens of Ukraine who have been arrested and imprisoned in the occupied Crimea and in Russia, remains beyond any negotiation platforms.
Shumkova also said that relatives of political prisoners had repeatedly contacted the President's Office, only to receive formal responses from the Justice Ministry.
She drew attention to the fact that it's only those political prisoners who enjoyed international media support or those who had served their sentences, were released from Russian prisons.