Ukrainian gov't, rebels start major prisoner swap

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, December 28, 2017
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The Ukrainian government and pro-independence insurgents in the eastern part of the country started their prisoner exchange on Wednesday.

The first stage of the prisoner swap, which was carried out at Majorsk checkpoint in Donetsk region, saw the exchange between Kiev and the self-proclaimed Lugansk republic, said the rebel-run Lugansk Information Center.

The government has released 75 rebel supporters, but two of them refused to return to Lugansk, according to the information center.

Meanwhile, Svyatoslav Tsegolko, a spokesman for Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, wrote on Facebook that 16 Ukrainian soldiers and pro-government civilians have already returned to the Kiev-controlled area.

By day's end, the Ukrainian government will carry out a prisoner swap with the self-proclaimed Donetsk republic.

Earlier, the sides have agreed that Kiev will release 306 Donetsk and Lugansk supporters in exchange for 74 soldiers and pro-government civilians.

If the agreements are implemented, the exchange will be the largest prisoner swap between the rival parties since the start of the conflict in April 2014.

The prisoner swap is a key part of the Minsk ceasefire agreement designed to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine that has killed some 10,000 people. 

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