Ukrainian Government, Rebels To Exchange Prisoners

KIEV, Ukraine -- The Ukrainian government and pro-independence insurgents in the eastern part of the country will exchange prisoners on Dec. 27, local media cited a rebel leader as saying on Monday.

A pro-Russia rebel stands guard during preparations for a prisoner exchange in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Oct. 29, 2015.

"We have agreed upon all the conditions, and on Dec. 27, the exchange will be carried out under the '306-for-74' formula," rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko was quoted as saying by the insurgent-run Donetsk News Agency.

Irina Herashchenko, first vice speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, on Facebook confirmed Kiev's readiness to release 306 rebel supporters in exchange for 74 soldiers and pro-government civilians.

She, however, gave no details on the dateline of the swap.

Earlier, the government said that insurgents are holding at least 162 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians captured in the conflict, while rebels estimated that the government is holding 309 of their supporters.

On Dec. 20, the conflicting parties agreed to carry out the exchange of the detained persons before the New Year and Christmas holidays.

The prisoner swap is a key part of the Minsk ceasefire agreement designed to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine that has killed some 11,000 people since April 2014.

If implemented, the prisoner swap will be the first exchange of hostages between the rival sides since the end of 2016.

Source: Xinhua