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HRW: Russian soldiers forcibly transfer Ukrainian civilians to Russia

Russian forces are forcibly relocating Ukrainian civilians, including those fleeing hostilities, to areas under their control, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report released Thursday.

The forcible transfer “is a grave violation of the laws of war, amounting to war crimes and a possible crime against humanity,” the NGO said.

HRW interviewed 54 people who had been to Russia or knew people who had. Some of them also helped Ukrainians trying to leave Russia after Moscow forces invaded Ukraine in late February.

Many forcibly displaced people fled the city of Mariupol, a port city that suffered a devastating siege and heavy shelling before being retaken by Russian troops. The others were from the Kharkiv region in eastern Ukraine.

“Of course we would have taken the opportunity to go to Ukraine if we could have,” a displaced woman from Mariupol told HRW. “But we had no choice, we had no possibility to go” to the territories under Ukrainian control, she said.

“Ukrainian civilians should not have only one option – to go to Russia,” said Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at HRW and one of the report’s authors.

Along the way, many were subjected to mandatory security checks called “screening,” which included the collection of biometrics and fingerprints, as well as body and personal checks, according to the report.

“Nobody should have to go through a forced screening process to get to a safe place,” Wille said.

A Mariupol man told HRW that after being detained by Russian soldiers, he and dozens of other Mariupol residents were held in unsanitary conditions in a village school building for two weeks before being detained. be filtered. “We felt like hostages,” he said.

According to HRW, the screening process is “punitive and violent in nature”, has “no legal basis” and constitutes a “clear violation of the right to privacy”.

HRW sent its findings and a summary of issues to Russian authorities on July 5, but received no response.

“The pushing of people further into Russian-occupied territories and into Russia without their consent must be stopped immediately,” Wille said.

Source: The Delfi





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