World Bulletin / News Desk
Kiev said Thursday it would unilaterally release 15 prisoners captured in war-torn eastern Ukraine in a bid to encourage a prisoner swap with pro-Russian rebels.
"Ukraine is handing over 15 people on a list of 228 people... in order to unblock the process of freeing the hostages," lawmaker Iryna Gerashchenko, who oversees humanitarian issues at truce talks, told reporters.
"These people will be pardoned by presidential decree," she added.
Gerashchenko later wrote on Facebook that the prisoners will return home ahead of the next round of talks, due to take place in the Belarussian capital of Minsk next week.
"This is a gesture of humanism and goodwill," she wrote, adding that Kiev demanded the release of all prisoners held by pro-Russian insurgents in the country's east.
The last prisoner swap between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels took place in September when two pro-Kiev detainees were exchanged for four separatist fighters at a checkpoint outside the rebel-held city of Lugansk.
Ukraine says that more than a hundred servicemen remain in captivity in the rebel-held parts of the eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions.
Nearly 10,000 people have died since Ukraine's mostly Russian-speaking eastern industrial regions revolted against Kiev's pro-Western government in April 2014.
Kiev and the West have accused Russia of supporting rebels and deploying troops across the border, claims Moscow has repeatedly denied.
Last Mod: 15 Aralık 2016, 17:44