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Ukraine, Russia-Backed Separatists Agree On Pre-Easter Prisoner Swap

Relatives of Ukrainian prisoners held by the Russia-backed separatists display pictures of their loved in Kyiv in January.

Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists in the east of the country have agreed to another prisoner swap ahead of Orthodox Easter celebrations.

The Russian and Ukrainian sides in the so-called Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) made the announcement late on April 8 following a video conference.

The talks led to "fundamental agreements on the lists for the mutual release of detained persons" no later than Orthodox Easter on April 19, according to a statement on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's website.

Russia's envoy to the TCG, Boris Gryzlov, said Kyiv and separatists in the Donbas region had "principally coordinated the lists of detained persons for exchange."

It was not immediately clear how many prisoners the two sides would exchange.

The last prisoner swap in December 2019 involved 200 people.

During the video conference, held in keeping with recommendations against in-person gatherings because of the coronavirus pandemic, the sides also discussed demining and negotiations on the disengagement of troops in the Donbas region.

Negotiations for a new cease-fire between Kyiv and the separatists have so far failed to halt fighting.

The conflict has claimed around 13,200 lives since April 2014, according to the UN.

The prisoner swap comes as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in March called on the warring parties in conflicts around the world to halt fighting due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With reporting by dpa and TASS
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