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Ukraine, Russia-Backed Separatists Begin New Round In Prisoner Swap

By RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service April 16, 2020

KYIV -- Ukraine and Russia-backed separatists in the east of the country have begun another prisoner swap.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's office said in a Facebook post on April 16 that 19 Ukrainians who were in the custody of the Russia-backed separatists are being returned to Kyiv.

According to Russian news agencies, the swap is taking place near the town of Horlivka in the region of Donetsk.

At this point, it is not clear how many individuals held by the Ukrainian side will be handed over to the separatist-controlled territories.

The Ukrainian and Russian sides in the so-called Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) said on April 8 that they had agreed to hold the swap before Orthodox Easter on April 19.

Ukraine's relationship with Russia has been tense ever since protests in Kyiv led to the overthrow of the nation's pro-Russian leader Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014.

Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula shortly thereafter and backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, sparking a war in the eastern region known as the Donbas that has resulted in some 13,200 deaths. That war continues to this day.

The prisoner swap comes as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in March called on warring parties in conflicts around the world to halt fighting due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With reporting by Ukrayinska Pravda and TASS

Source: backed-separatists-begin-new-round-in- prisoner-swap/30558758.html

Copyright (c) 2020. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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