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18 January, 2019

Russia will block release of Ukrainian hostages until April

The Ukrainian side in the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) on the settlement of the situation in Donbas has demanded that a joint meeting of the group and its humanitarian subgroup be held immediately to unblock the release of Ukrainian hostages and political prisoners

Ukraine's representative in the humanitarian subgroup, First Deputy Chairwoman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Iryna Gerashchenko, wrote this on his Facebook page after Thursday's meeting in Minsk.

"We demand the immediate holding of a joint meeting of the TCG and the humanitarian subgroup to unblock the release of hostages and political prisoners. We also condemn the destructive position of the Russian Federation that does not hide that it will block all sober initiatives and waits for the change of power in Ukraine. We insist that the issue of security in Donbas and the release of hostages is a matter of the present and needs to be resolved immediately as hostages should not wait until April," Gerashchenko wrote.

According to her, the Ukrainian side drew the attention of OSCE coordinators to the continuous disruption of the ceasefire regime by the Russian Federation and its puppets in Donbas.

"We also do not consider it possible to wait until the end of the election campaign and stop the struggle for the release of hostages and political prisoners. That will not be the case. At the request of the Ukrainian side, we will once again raise at the TCG the issue of the release of teenagers from Yasynuvata and hope that progress will soon be made on this issue," Gerashchenko added.

She noted that Yevhen Marchuk, Ukraine's representative in the TCG, and all Ukrainian negotiators in four groups had emphasized such positions on resolving the conflict in Donbas.

The key positions include the immediate cancellation of the results of pseudo-elections in the occupied Donbas and the disbanding of all pseudo-bodies of the pseudo-authorities, strict compliance by the Russian Federation and its puppets with the clauses of the Minsk agreements, starting with the ceasefire regime and the withdrawal of troops and heavy weapons. "Crimea and Azov are part of Ukraine," Gerashchenko said.

According to her, the Ukrainian side insists on the presence of the OSCE mission in the Sea of Azov and a permanent monitoring base in Kerch. "Sailors are prisoners of war and they must be released unconditionally. We condemned the position of Russian ombudswoman [Tatyana] Moskalkova who was not present at the show trial of our sailors and escaped from a meeting with Ukrainian ombudswoman [Liudmyla] Denisova, having canceled the agreement on negotiations at the last minute. That was a shameful behavior," Gerashchenko said.

On January 15 and 16, the Lefortovo District Court of Moscow ruled to extend the arrest of 24 Ukrainian sailors seized by Russian troops in the Kerch Strait on November 25, 2018, for three months.


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