"The decision by the Russian Federation to transfer a group of Ukrainian citizens, who were held for a long time in the temporarily occupied territory in Donetsk and Luhansk region, to a private individual, Viktor Medvedchuk, rather than to Ukraine grossly and openly violates established mechanisms for resolving such humanitarian issues," the statement reads.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry stressed that "this step by the Russian Federation is a blow to the Normandy format and the Trilateral Contact Group, which are conducting systematic work to ensure the release of persons held in connection with the conflict."
"Russia's consciously neglecting the OSCE's role in the issue of release is particularly revealing and cynical on the day of the visit to Ukraine by OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde," the ministry added.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry demanded that Russia adhere strictly to all agreements reached in the Normandy format, including those on ensuring unimpeded access for the International Committee of the Red Cross to Ukrainian prisoners of war and hostages held in the territories of Ukraine temporarily occupied by Russia, and release all persons held in connection with the conflict.
Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights Liudmyla Denisova said on January 20 that nine people would be unilaterally transferred to Ukraine from Russian-occupied Donbas, with the process due to begin on January 20 or 21.
Earlier media reports said that Donbas militants would hand over a group of captured Ukrainian citizens to Ukraine.
For her part, Denisova stated her readiness to facilitate the return of illegally detained Ukrainian citizens to Ukraine.
The spokesperson for the Ukrainian delegation to the Trilateral Contact Group, Oleksiy Arestovych, said that the Ukrainian special services would check the persons whom the "puppet bodies" of the so-called "DPR" and "LPR" were preparing to hand over to Ukraine.
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