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Should Ukraine release MH17 case suspect Tsemakh?

Author : Serhiy Zvihlyanych

Ukrainian court has released a potentially key witness to the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 as part of prisoners' exchange operation between Kyiv and Moscow
09:00, 9 September 2019

Volodymyr Tsemakh
Radio Liberty

Internet users have been arguing about the release of Donbas militant Vladimir Tsemakh, involved in downing Boeing 777 Malaysia Airlines MH17 in 2014. Today, this is probably the hottest topic on Facebook.

Of course, I cannot decide whether to put Tsemakh on the exchange list or not. This decision should be made by the person, responsible for international politics and is building the country's international course. We have chosen the president and given him these powers. We cannot access Zelensky’s work now, because we do not know the real circumstances of the negotiations. Moreover, in this case, neither the country nor specifically President Zelensky has an unequivocally correct choice. If he were, President Poroshenko would have used it. I hope that the close circle of the president and our Foreign Ministry have calculated all possible options for the development of events, all the pros and cons of such a decision before making it.

Related: Extradition of Tsemakh to Russia to not change anything in trial on MH17 case, - Bellingcat investigator

What do we have at the moment? There are military operations in the Donbas, Crimea is occupied, there are 13,000 dead, dozens are kept in Russian prisons, and even more than dozens are held in the jails of occupied Donbas. The only thing that is missing is a real and beneficial solution to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

If you are waiting for the Ukrainian flag to be hanged on the towers of the Kremlin, you are awkward.

The only way for the resolution is diplomacy.

Petro Poroshenko has created a structure in which Europe, supported Ukraine, although in a sluggish way. Russia has been subjected to international sanctions. But they cannot last forever. Power in European countries is changing, politics is changing, and the geopolitical situation is changing. Recently, Ukraine has been actively persuaded to find a compromise. It will be cynically said, but the Netherlands, despite the loss of their citizens, probably caused by the Russians, are not ashamed of their support for Nord Stream 2 project. Typical European pragmatism.

Related: Suspect in MH17 case Tsemakh questioned by Netherlands before being sent to Moscow, - Dutch MFA

Europe is ready to turn a blind eye to the tragedy of the Dutch, and especially the Malaysians because there are more serious problems? These are just hypotheses based on observations. But it seems that Europe and the United States will breathe a sigh of relief if Kyiv and Moscow find common ground.

If so, then Zelensky is trying to benefit from this situation. If Putin decides to release sailors and political prisoners for Tsemakh, if this is some kind of a dialogue, it may be worth a try.

Another thing is if this future exchange is aimed at the release of prisoners, and does not have further prospects in terms of ending hostilities and the gradual normalization of the relations.

But the decision should be made by a person, who is personally responsible for foreign policy. This is the president. And he has made it. Is it correct or not? We will find out it later. I am sure that even Zelensky himself does not know this now.

Related: Russian Embassy in Netherlands did not get requests to pass main MH17 witness Tsemakh

And finally, I want to move away from high matters and allow myself an emotional passage. Many people write on the social media that the exchange is not really needed and sanctions are more important, “mythical” support of the Netherlands is more important. Friends, we sit in warm offices, drink coffee and write different nonsense on social media, while dozens of people sit in cold prisons and suffer from tortures. Think about how your “high matters” are combined with their banal desire to survive. Just survive to see their children and mothers. In the end, read Article 3 of our Constitution and you will find out what should be the main value of a civilized state.

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