Ukraine Says Russia Has Taken 400K Civilian 'Hostages'

Moscow accused of confiscating passports of Mariupol residents
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 25, 2022 4:32 AM CDT
Moscow Accused of Forcibly Removing Civilians to Russia
A man walks on the debris of a burning house, destroyed after a Russian attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 24, 2022.   (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

(Newser) – Ukraine is accusing Moscow of forcibly removing hundreds of thousands of civilians from shattered Ukrainian cities to Russia to pressure Kyiv to give up. Lyudmyla Denisova, Ukraine’s ombudsperson, said 402,000 people, including 84,000 children, had been taken against their will into Russia, where some may be used as "hostages" to pressure Kyiv to surrender, the AP reports. The Kremlin gave nearly identical numbers for those who have been relocated, but said they were from predominantly Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine and wanted to go to Russia.

Russian Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev said the roughly 400,000 people evacuated to Russia were being provided with accommodations and payments and had voluntarily left eastern Ukraine. But Donetsk Region Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said that "people are being forcibly moved into the territory of the aggressor state." Denisova said those removed by Russian troops included a 92-year-old woman in Mariupol who was forced to go to Taganrog in southern Russia. Ukrainian officials said that the Russians are taking people’s passports and moving them to "filtration camps" in Ukraine’s separatist-controlled east before sending them to various distant, economically depressed areas in Russia.

Among those taken, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry charged, were 6,000 residents of Mariupol, the devastated port city in the country’s east. Moscow’s troops are confiscating identity documents from an additional 15,000 people in a section of Mariupol under Russian control, the ministry said. Kyrylenko said that Mariupol’s residents have been long deprived of information and that the Russians feed them false claims about Ukraine’s defeats to persuade them to move to Russia. Some could be sent as far as the Pacific island of Sakhalin, Ukrainian intelligence said, and are being offered jobs on the condition they don’t leave for two years.

(Read more Russia-Ukraine conflict stories.)

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