Ukrainian lawmaker and former prisoner of war Nadiya Savchenko on Jan. 10 ignored warnings from the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and published a list of the names of captives held by Ukraine and by Russian-backed armed groups in occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.
Savchenko gathered the information on the captured soldiers, political prisoners, and missing people over the nine months since her release from the captivity by Russia in May 2016. Publishing the names, she admitted there could be mistakes in her lists of PoWs and political prisoners to be swapped.
According to documents, Ukraine has filed a request for the return of 129 soldiers, while the Russian-backed armed groups have confirmed they are holding 42 of them. In addition, Ukraine is searching for 494 missing persons.
Representatives of the armed groups in control of parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts requested the release of 524 and 377 people respectively. Ukraine has confirmed it is holding 256 of them.
Thus, the first stage of confirmed prisoner swap by the two sides will be 42 Ukrainian soldiers to 256 Russian-backed militants.
Secondly, Savchenko listed political prisoners who are also waiting to be exchanged. There are 44 Ukrainians kept in Russian prisons in the occupied territories and Crimea. Ukraine has detained 102 Russian citizens.
Savchenko criticized the Kyiv officials at Minsk agreement negotiations and Ukrainian special services for incompetence and three years of unproductive work. She said that Ukraine had released Russian PoWs unilaterally.
“The latest example of the brilliant idea and generosity of President Poroshenko is the unilateral release of 15 individuals to the opposite side, and among them a woman under nom de guerre ‘Sakhara.’ Earlier the ‘terrorists’ were willing to swap three Ukrainian soldiers for her, but back then the Ukrainian authorities didn’t find that possible. However, later that woman was released in good faith,” Savchenko wrote on her Facebook page, where she also posted 32 pages of scanned documents.
Earlier, adviser to the head of Ukraine’s SBU security service Yuri Tandit claimed that the SBU was going to talk to Savchenko about the disclosure of the lists.
In an interview with the 112 television channel on Jan.7, Tandit said that Ukrainian legislation restricted the publication of data related to the war.
“This information should not be used for sordid motives. The lists should not be manipulated and used for political PR,” Tandit said, adding that the disclosure of names of captives might endanger them and their families.
Savchenko wrote that it was necessary to publish the names of captured and missing people so that it would be possible to find them.
“The process of my release from capture was public. My sister wasn’t afraid to bother the president and parliament to make them work, and only in this way could I be freed,” Savchenko wrote.
Former Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko was captured by Russia and sentenced to 22 years in jail for killing two Russian journalists in eastern Ukraine in 2014. Two years later she was pardoned by Russian President Vladimir Putin and exchanged for two Russian soldiers captured by Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine.