A pro-Ukrainian student, Serhiy Rusynov, has been in detention in the so-called Luhansk "people’s republic" for almost a year. This was reported by the Eastern Human Rights Group on Facebook late on August 13.
The Eastern Human Rights Group describes Rusynov as a second-year student at the College of Culture and Arts and an avid social media user. In occupied Luhansk, he was charged with “creating a pro-Ukrainian terrorist group,” and sentenced to six years in prison.
Rusynov is currently not on any prisoner exchange list. Meaning, he could be facing five more years in captivity based on the alleged charges.
Detentions of ordinary citizens happen on a weekly basis in the occupied Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the human rights group writes. In relation to the Rusynov incident and others like that, the Eastern Human Rights Group has called on the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to demand a list of local residents that have been kept in captivity since May 2014. At the moment the exact number of people in prison in the occupied parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions is unknown.
Four Ukrainian men were released from occupied Donbas prisons and returned to Ukraine on June 28 after an agreement was reached in Minsk between Victor Medvedchuk, the head of Ukraine’s pro-Kremlin Opposition Platform-For Life party, and the self-proclaimed leaders of occupied Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Three of the freed Ukrainians are soldiers and one a civilian. The men spent one to four years in prison each.
On July 18, an exchange of prisoners was agreed upon with the ratio of 208 pro-Russian separatists for 69 Ukrainians. According to Roman Bezsmertnyi, former representative of Ukraine in the political subgroup in Minsk, the exchange will happen within the coming days or months. In 2017, a similar exchange took place, and Ukraine handed over 233 prisoners for 73 Ukrainian hostages.
Eastern Ukraine has been suffering from war for five years. Nonetheless, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy is confident that it will be resolved, “peacefully, on the basis of international law and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”