Lubinets: We are looking for intermediaries who can influence Russia's position on exchange of Mariupol defenders

Lubinets: We are looking for intermediaries who can influence Russia's position on exchange of Mariupol defenders

Communication on the exchange of prisoners is taking place, Ukraine is looking for intermediaries who can influence Russia's position on the defenders of Mariupol.

This was stated by the Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights Dmytro Lubinets on the air of the United News telethon, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.

"We can't say that it [the prisoner exchange process] has been put on hold, but we must remain realistic that the Russians will use these factors against the Ukrainian government... I cannot say that I directly see that these processes have been suspended. Some heads of structures in the Russian Federation are being replaced, and this, in my opinion, may be due to the fact that we are not currently experiencing any processes. But we are communicating," the ombudsman said.

He also noted that the search is on for intermediaries who could influence Russia's position on the exchange of Mariupol defenders.

"I see a special attitude on the part of the Russians towards the defenders of Mariupol. We are now seeing a new trend - Russians are taking the defenders to separate penitentiary institutions in the Russian Federation, then they are looking for prisoners of war among the Mariupol defenders, and they are starting public trials against them," the Commissioner said.

He stressed that this new tactic of the Russian Federation is a violation of the Geneva Conventions and a separate war crime. According to the ombudsman, Ukraine is drawing the attention of the International Committee of the Red Cross to this and demanding a response from them.

"On the other hand, we are looking for new mediators who can help us return all prisoners of war and civilian hostages, including the defenders of Mariupol," the ombudsman said.

Read also: Rallies in support of Mariupol defenders held in Lviv and Zaporizhzhia

Lubinets noted that Ukraine still does not have official access to prisoners of war and civilian hostages, as Russia continues to restrict visits by ICRC representatives with the appropriate mandate. However, through other channels of information, we have "a complete picture of what is happening there," Lubinets said.

"Firstly, all our prisoners of war do not get enough food or water. They are not provided with medical care. Also, most of them are subjected to constant torture, physical and psychological torture by the Russian Federation," the ombudsman said, stressing that Russia "violates all the Geneva Conventions".

As reported, on 16 May 2022, the evacuation of 2,500 Ukrainian servicemen from the Azovstal plant in Mariupol began on the order of the Defence Forces Command. On 20 May, the Russians took the last of them out. The invaders kept most of the defenders in the temporarily occupied Olenivka and Novoazovsk. Later, they were transferred to Russian colonies.

More than 1900 Mariupol defenders remain in Russian captivity.

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