Donbas hostage swap: militants demand release of ex-Berkut troops, terrorists, murderers – Gerashchenko

Pro-Russian militants include in their requirements for the exchange of Ukrainian hostages the demand for the release of former [Yanukovych era police task force] Berkut officers, terrorists and murderers, Ukraine`s humanitarian envoy in the Trilateral Contact Group for the peaceful settlement in Donbas, First Deputy Chair of the Verkhovna Rada Iryna Gerashchenko said during her Parliament address, according to an UNIAN correspondent.

She stressed readiness of the Ukrainian side for a ”broad compromise” for the release of prisoners.

”We are ready to pardon a few hundred people wherever Ukrainian legislation allows it, to hand them over in the framework of the exchange procedure, for the release of Ukrainian hostages,” Gerashchenko said.

At the same time, she noted Ukraine would not agree to ”the blackmail the Russian Federation and occupied areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions are now imposing on us, where they include Berkut officers in the hostage release lists, those who were killing our heroes at the Maidan, who were involved in the terrorist attacks in Odesa and Kharkiv.”

”These criminals must remain in prison, and they have no relation to the conflict in Donbas,” Gerashchenko stressed.

In addition, she said the militants demanded the release of several dozen convicted murderers from various regions of Ukraine.

”The Minsk process is not a ”pawn shop” for the release of all criminals. We can go for a broad compromise, but only within the framework of the Minsk process,” Gerashchenko said.

As UNIAN reported, on May 24, Gerashchenko said that the Ukrainian side in Minsk suggested the exchange of hostages be held in June, but the representatives of the Russian Federation were hampering the process.

Today, Chief of the SBU Security Service of Ukraine Vasyl Hrytsak said that Ukraine was ready to hand over 200 people to the militants in exchange for Ukrainian hostages.

As of today, the militants keep in custody 128 Ukrainian hostages.

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