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Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels swap prisoners before New Year


Ukraine and pro-Russian separatist rebels conducted the largest exchange of prisoners since conflict broke out in 2014, sending hundreds of captives home to their families on Wednesday ahead of New Year and Orthodox Christmas, APA reports quoting Reuters.

 

More than 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict and casualties are still reported almost daily despite a ceasefire that froze the frontlines in place since 2015.

 

“My son rang,” the mother of a Ukrainian prisoner Oleksandr Oliynyk told the Ukrainian news channel 112.

 

“I have not heard his voice for three-and-a-half years, just letters. He said: ‘Mum, I‘m already here.’ You cannot imagine what it means for a mother, to not see your child for three-and-a-half years, since August 2014.”

 

According to the terms of the deal, Kiev was meant to hand over 306 prisoners to the rebels and receive 74 prisoners in return. A Reuters photographer at the scene saw the Ukrainian prisoners being loaded onto buses in the town of Horlivka and taken to territory controlled by the Ukrainian government.

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