Ukraine rivals to exchange prisoners in controversial swap

Kramatorsk, Ukraine, Dec 29 (AFP/APP): Ukrainian authorities and pro-Russian separatists in the war-torn east of the country are expected Sunday to swap dozens of prisoners in a frontline operation that stirred controversy in Kiev.

As part of the swap, Kiev is expected to hand over to separatists several riot policemen suspected of killing protesters during a pro-Western uprising in 2014, in a move that sparked public anger.

The latest exchange comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky held their first face-to-face talks in Paris on December 9 and agreed some measures to de-escalate Europe’s only active war.

The summit, mediated by the leaders of France and Germany, was the first of its kind in three years.
“There should be an exchange… We are waiting for this,” said Zelensky.

A representative of the separatist stronghold of Donetsk, Daria Morozova, said Donetsk and another separatist statelet of Lugansk would get 87 prisoners, while 55 people would be handed over to Kiev.

The prisoner exchange is expected to take place near the town of Gorlivka in the Donetsk region.

The swap would come three months after Ukraine carried out a long-awaited exchange with Russia of 35 prisoners each.

As part of that exchange, Russia released filmmaker Oleg Sentsov and 24 Ukrainian sailors.

More than 13,000 people have been killed since pro-Russia militias in eastern Ukraine launched a bid for independence in 2014.

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