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Russia illegally holds under arrest over 14,000 Ukrainian citizens – Ombudsman

Ukrainian Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said that that efforts to secure their return proving exceptionally challenging.
Dmytro Lubinets
Ukraine’s Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets. Photo from his Facebook page
Russia illegally holds under arrest over 14,000 Ukrainian citizens – Ombudsman

Ukrainian Human Rights Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets reports that Russia is illegally holding over 14,000 Ukrainian citizens, according to comments made to Interfax-Ukraine on 29 June.

Lubinets said that efforts to secure their return are “the most difficult work,” especially for civilian detainees.

“Returning three categories of Ukrainian citizens – children, prisoners of war, civilians – it is the work on civilians that is the most difficult,” Lubinets said, commenting on the recent return of 10 Ukrainian citizens from Russian captivity, including Nariman Dzhelyal, deputy chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people.

The ombudsman explained that, unlike prisoner exchanges for military personnel, there is no established process for returning civilian detainees.

“We cannot exchange them, we have no additional direct leverage on the Russian Federation. We don’t even have a legal basis on which we can conduct this process,” he added.

Lubinets also highlighted Ukraine’s ongoing efforts to repatriate nearly 20,000 children and “tens of thousands” of people considered missing.

The ombudsman said that this recent return marked the first time the Vatican had participated in repatriating Ukrainian adults, having previously only assisted with children.

“Until now, they (the Vatican) have been helping us with the return of Ukrainian children. We are in direct communication with them. I hope that this return will become a new point,” Lubinets said.

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