Prisoner swap not in our hands, but in Putin's hands – Umerov
Ilmi Umerov, the deputy head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, former political prisoner, has said the prisoner exchange process depends solely on Russian President Vladimir Putin, adding that most political prisoners are aware of this.
"I'm sure that most political prisoners ... perfectly understand the predicament they are in. The vast majority of them correctly assess the situation and realize that the exchange process is not in our hands, but in the hands of Vladimir Putin," Umerov said at a press conference in Kharkiv on Tuesday.
He blamed Putin for the fact that contrary to expectations, the exchange of held persons did not take place at the end of August.
"This is his game, an ingenious move... He brought this situation to a boiling point: they made lists, relatives went (some to Kyiv, some to Moscow), lawyers went. He brought the situation to a head, and then set a new condition, to include ("Donetsk People's Republic") fighter Volodymyr Tsemakh in the swap. Tsemakh is considered by the Dutch prosecutor to be a suspect in the case of the downing of Boeing flight MH17 [in July 2014]. This is a very serious provocation. This another crime has been committed by Putiin. I'm sure it will be brought up when he appears at International Court in The Hague," Umerov said.
Umerov said Ukrainians need to think about solving the problem as a whole.
"Geopolitically, we should think about solving the problem as a whole, because if 30 people are freed now, then Putin won't need to arrest another 60 tomorrow," he said.
Umerov said strengthening sanctions could be a solution, but he did not rule out a military way of development.
"It is necessary to use sanctions to bring Russia to a state, to a situation when they refuse… To be honest, I do not exclude the military path of events. Under the guise of NATO, Ukraine can fight for its territories. Throughout time, territories have been fought for," Umerov said.