On October 18, a regular meeting of the Contact Group on the peaceful settlement of the conflict in Donbass was held in Minsk. The agenda included the observance of cease-fire regime, the implementation of the Agreement on the separation of forces and means and the preparation for the exchange of prisoners.
According to the Minsk source at the peace talks, the plenipotentiary representative of the DPR in the Contact Group Denis Pushilin called on the OSCE SMM to pay close attention to the conditions of the prisoners as well as physical and psychological impact, applied to them in the territory of Ukraine. In particular, the case of Darya Mastikasheva, who announced a hunger strike to protest against the violation of her rights and inhuman treatment on October 16, needs the intervention of an international organization.
ʺFollowing the attention paid to the fate of the 29-year-old woman and the repeated reference to the illegality of the actions of Ukrainian security officials, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine initiated a criminal case for the abduction and torture of Darya Mastikasheva, whom the Ukrainian authorities accuse of treason. However, the case has been opened against unidentified persons, and the charges against Darya have not been withdrawn so far, and this is, in fact, the recognition by the Ukrainian security officials of the crimes committed. Especially, in view of the criminal case opened in mid-September 2017 involving abuse of authority by police officers, who detained Darya Mastikasheva.
Despite all the violations of the Ukrainian ‘law enforcement’ system and the lack of evidence, Daria Mastikasheva, according to the Ukrainian side, is not subject to exchange, as she is classified as a perpetrator of particularly serious crimes, as dozens of other prisoners are, including Irina Kozlovskaya, a mother of a 5-month-old child,ʺ the source said.
According to the source, the authorities of the Donetsk People’s Republic are ready to exchange the Ukrainian soldiers, who fought against the Donbass people, for political prisoners locked up in Ukrainian prisons.
ʺThe ‘most powerful army of Europe’, which is supposed to be a guardian of European values, continues to fight against old people, women and children, ignoring basic human rights by manipulating and distorting facts. At the same time, persons captured on the battlefield with weapons in their hands, who committed war crimes against the civilian population of Donbass, are awaiting to be exchanged. But despite the seriousness of the acts they have committed, we are ready to return them to Ukraine in order to free all our people,ʺ the source emphasized.
Also, Denis Pushilin noted at the meeting of the Contact Group that the Ukrainian regime was doing everything possible to prevent the participation of citizens, who reside in the temporarily controlled by Kiev territory of the People’s Republics, in the activities related to the implementation of the humanitarian programme for Donbass people reunification.
ʺAdding athletes and artists, who took part in competitions and contests in the territory of the Republics, to the “Mirotvorets” website, prosecution and political pressure are only a small list of the Ukrainian side’s actions.
For example, the situation of a teacher, who took schoolchildren to Russia (about 70 pupils of Ukrainian schools) to participate in the educational programme of Rossotrudnichestvo entitled “Hello, Russia!” deserves special attention. In August 2017, the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine requested a legal assessment of the incident. Taking children to Russia aroused indignation among the Ukrainian politicians. Many Ukrainian community workers called it a ‘crime’ and required punishment. It is open to question what punishment will be, knowing Ukraine’s radical attitude towards everything related to Russia,ʺ the source voiced the position of the plenipotentiary representative.
In addition, the representatives of the DPR requested Ukraine to promulgate the cease-fire order during the meeting of the Contact Group, as this was one of the conditions that promoted compliance with the cease-fire regime.
ʺUnlike the Donetsk People’s Republic, whose authorities have published the relevant orders and established working groups to monitor the truce, Ukraine has never issued the order regarding the introduction of a ‘school truce’ and other regulations, which govern disciplinary responsibility for violations.
The mechanisms, which help to ‘identify a culprit’ in violating the cease-fire regime and to develop, introduce and promulgate disciplinary measures against violators as well as measures to respond to violations, are still unclear. Also, Ukraine evades its responsibility for shelling Zaitsevo, which led to the death of a single father of three children.
According to the plenipotentiary representative Denis Pushilin, it is increasingly difficult to speak of the maintenance of the cease-fire regime with each meeting without the implementation of clear steps, including the promulgation of the orders relating to the ‘school truce’ and the application of disciplinary measures to violators of these orders,ʺ the source summed up.