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28,000 Ukrainians are held captive by Russia. Ombudsman calls for coalition for their release

28,000 Ukrainians are held captive by Russia. Ombudsman calls for coalition for their release Photo: human rights ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets (Dmytro Semeniuk, RBC-Ukraine)

Russia holds 28,000 Ukrainian citizens captive. A coalition is proposed to facilitate their return, said the Human Rights Ombudsman Dmitry Lubinets during the "Ukraine. Year 2024" forum.

"According to our unofficial data, approximately 28,000 Ukrainian citizens are held in Russian captivity. Journalists, representatives of local authorities, churches, international representatives. Three official OSCE representatives have been detained in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and we have been unable to release them for several years. And all this time, Russia is a member of the OSCE," the envoy said.

Lubinets explained that exchanging civilians for civilians is prohibited by international law. Therefore, Ukraine is seeking new approaches and countries that can join the process of returning civilian hostages.

"As of now, I can say that during the last trip to Qatar a week ago, it was stated during the meeting with the prime minister that they are ready to try their efforts to return civilian hostages. We need to create an international coalition for the return of civilian hostages," emphasized the ombudsman.

Ukrainians in Russian captivity

Earlier, the authorized representative of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine for Human Rights, Dmytro Lubinets, stated that Ukraine has managed to return a total of 517 children and 2,828 adults, among whom only 150 are civilians.

In January 2024, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe approved an important resolution regarding Ukrainian children. It calls for the recognition of the deportation of Ukrainian children by Russia as genocide against the Ukrainian people.

Additionally, the EU introduced restrictions against Russians and Belarusians involved in the deportation of Ukrainian children in a new package of sanctions.