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Donetsk People's Republic pledges to release four OSCE hostages

Alexander Borodai, the prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, told a news conference held after a regular round of consultations on settling the conflict in southeast Ukraine late on Friday what he thought about the demands set forth in the final document of the EU summit on Ukraine that has ended in Brussels.

The European Council expects that the following steps will have been taken by Monday, June 30:

Agreement on a verification mechanism monitored by the OSCE for the ceasefire and for the effective control of the border;

Return to the Ukrainian authorities of the three border checkpoints (Izvarino, Dolzhanskiy and Krasnyi Partizan);

Release of hostages including all of the OSCE observers.

Alexander Borodai said that the leadership of the Donetsk People's Republic was not ready to hand the above-mentioned border checkpoints back to the Ukrainian army. However, he invited OSCE observers to work in all areas of the military conflict.

"We disagree that the three border checkpoints (Dolzhanskoye, Izvarino and Krasnyi Partizan) should be returned to the Ukrainian side but we agree and, moreover, we are inviting OSCE observers, with or without Russian participation, just an OSCE mission to come to the aforesaid checkpoints and to other areas of the military conflict that could be embraced,'" Borodai went on to say.

He pledged to release the remaining four observers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) detained in southeast Ukraine in the next few days. Borodai categorically disagreed with the word "hostages" used by the European Council and suggested using the words "detained" or "withheld" instead.

"We want the exchange to take place on the all-for-all basis. We have promised to draw up the lists of persons (whom we want back) and we hope that the opposite side will also prepare such lists," the prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic said.

And, finally, the EU summit insists on launching substantial negotiations on the implementation of the peace plan proposed by Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko.

In response to this demand, Alexander Borodai reiterated the stance of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics: they are ready to start the peace talks after the Kiev authorities withdraw the Ukrainian troops from their territories.

"We have a natural desire and agreement for these negotiations to start. We will sit down to talks only after the Right Sector, the National Guard and the Interior Ministry has withdrawn their forces and special units from the territories of the Donetsk People's Republic and the Lugansk People's Republic," Borodai stressed.

Meanwhile, the prime minister of the Donetsk People's Republic has said the republic's self-defence forces are ready to extend the truce for the same period as Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko would wish to extend the ceasefire.

Earlier on Friday, Poroshenko told a news conference in Brussels that he intended to extend the ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine for another 72 hours upon his return from Brussels.

"I need to return (to Kiev) and hold consultations with the military and the government. The ceasefire will be in force until Friday evening. The decision will have been passed by that time," Poroshenko said.

Initially, the ceasefire was supposed to expire at 23:00 Moscow time on Friday though both parties in conflict claim that in reality there has been no truce or ceasefire in the ground.

[Source: Itar Tass, Donestk, 27Jun14]

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