Talks on prisoner swap problematic, those requested by militants not willing to return - Kuchma
Second Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma (1994-2005), who represents Ukraine in the Trilateral Contact Group for the settlement of the situation in Donbas, has said that negotiations on the exchange of hostages under the "306 for 74" formula is accompanied by a number of problems, including the unwillingness of individuals requested by militants to return to the occupied Donbas.
"I think that there is a date, and the lists are approved - 74 and 306, but when it comes to specific names, then problems begin. We hope that they will be resolved," he told journalists in Kyiv on Tuesday.
Kuchma added that this situation was delicate enough in order to discuss it in detail.
"The president himself [Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko] is overseeing this issue... I would like everyone to get home before the holidays," he added.
According to him, the main problem is that many people from the list requested by representatives of certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions do not want to return to the non-government controlled area.
"It starts here that we cannot reach agreement with the opposite side, because they do not want to. However, I think that agreements will definitely be reached," Kuchma said.
He also expressed confidence that it was necessary to solve this issue even by compromise, but not the one that would influence the number of people.
Kuchma also believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin, while agreeing to the prisoner swap, is trying to show that he is in favor of a "diplomatic, peaceful solution to the problems of the occupied territories of Donbas."
As reported, Ukrainian Choice – Right of the People NGO leader Viktor Medvedchuk said on November 23 that it was currently impossible to exchange all prisoners and expected the first stage of the swap to take place according to the "306 for 74" formula.
"The Minsk agreements provide for exchanging prisoners "all for all." There are today 386 persons held in Ukraine sought by the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics (DPR/LPR). There are currently 157 persons sought by Ukraine in DPR/LPR, of whom 94 have been confirmed. However, Ukraine cannot carry out the exchange because of legislation. So we can't exchange all these people, while DPR/LPR want to exchange everyone," Medvedchuk told the Komsomolskaya Pravda in Ukraine newspaper in an interview.
He added that his appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin was intended to facilitate a proportional exchange, as a first step within the "all for all" framework.
"Therefore, in line with this proposition, which Putin and Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill supported, we are counting on DPR/LPR releasing 74 persons in exchange for 306 persons held in Ukraine," Medvedchuk said.