The Ukrainian public has a positive view on the prisoner swap between Kiev and the Donbass republics, which will raise the approval rating of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, head of the Ukrainian Institute for Analysis and Political Management Ruslan Bortnik told TASS on Monday.
"Over 70% of Ukrainians are in favor of prisoner swap, and 48% consider it the main event of the year, according to the Rating sociological group. So this decision by the government (to hold the prisoner swap - TASS) is popular, it will find public support," the expert stated. The fact that about 200 people that have been released will spend the New Year and Christmas with their families and loved ones is an unconditional advantage, he said. "In this situation, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky took full credit of the decisions on the release and swap of prisoners," the expert noted, adding that this will also work to his benefit.
Bortnik pointed out that the prisoner swap would confirm that the agreements on Donbass regulation are being implemented. "In this way, Ukraine and the sides are implementing the sixth point of the Minsk Agreements from February 12, 2015, which stresses that there is no alternative to the Minsk Agreements," he stressed. Besides, the prisoner swap forms part of the Normandy Four (Russia, Germany, France, Ukraine) agreements.
However, the expert noted that the prisoner swap might have some negative consequences for Ukraine, namely, aggravation of tensions between the right wing and the government and disruption of Euromaidan protest cases investigations in the wake of the release of five Berkut riot police officers within the swap.
On December 29, a prisoner swap between Kiev and the self-proclaimed Donbass republics took place near the line of contact in the area of Gorlovka. This was the first large-scale prisoner exchange in two years. According to preliminary data, Ukraine handed over 124 people to Donbass, while the Donbass republics released 76 prisoners.
In late November, polls showed that Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s approval rating had dropped from 73% in September to 52% in late November, according to the Kiev International Institute of Sociology. However, a poll by the Rating sociological group demonstrated that in December, Zelensky’s rating began to rise, reaching 62%.