Zelensky: release of ex-Berkut police officers was condition of exchange, it was political decision
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky has stated the release of five ex-Berkut police officers, accused of mass killings in central Kyiv on February 20, 2014, was a condition for an exchange of detainees between Ukrainian authorities and the so-called Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) controlling certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
"Regarding Berkut police officers: this is the condition of "all for all" exchange. The condition for this exchange: we were returning our heroes, I think that it was a difficult decision, a political decision, it's true, and I believe that our fighters, our military, our journalists, they are all heroes. And I'm sure that our priority is to return our people," Zelensky said at a press briefing at Boryspil Airport on Sunday evening after the plane with 76 released Ukrainians had landed.
At the same time, he assured that their transfer will in no way affect the investigation of the "Maidan" case.
"Why there were no sentences [for ex-Berkut officers] – we will figure it out, it will not affect the Maidan affairs ... As I said, we'll complete the Maidan affairs," the president said.
"If they stayed, we would not have returned our scouts, we would not have returned the guys who were in Debaltseve," he said, speaking about the validity of the transfer of ex-Berkut officers within the exchange.