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Home LATEST NEWS Inside Russia's 'Kafka-esque' Mass Kidnapping Scheme - news primer

Inside Russia’s ‘Kafka-esque’ Mass Kidnapping Scheme – news primer

Almost six months after Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine, with up to 1.6 million Ukrainians forcibly taken to Russia So far, Ukrainian authorities say Russian forces are using civilians as cannon fodder on the front lines and simulating artillery strikes to trick them into crossing the border.

Just this week, the Ukrainian authorities in Kozacha Lopan, a town occupied by Russian forces in the Kharkiv region, said Residents were herded and forcibly “evacuated” to Russia’s Belgorod region after soldiers tricked them into buses and told them they had to leave to escape “heavy shelling” in the area. There was no such shelling, authorities said.

In the occupied Lugansk region, the authorities tell 80 civilian men in the city of Starobilsk were forcibly sent to the front lines this week alone, sent to die by Russian forces who violently took control of the area.

It’s all part of a “Kafka-style system” Russia has set up to wipe out the Ukrainian population by forcibly “Russifying” hundreds of thousands of citizens, according to a new report extensively detailing Russia’s network of “leakage” camps. ” for refugees.

The Center for Information Resilience, a nonprofit organization that uses open-source intelligence to track Russian activities in Ukraine, has compiled a new dossier, shared with The Daily Beast, on the network of camps and accommodation centers. that Moscow is using to kidnap literally hundreds of thousands. of Ukrainians in sight.

“Ukrainian refugees are presented with the illusion of choice from the moment of their capture until their involuntary settlement on Russian territory. They are trapped in a Kafka-like system that works against them. Their forced displacement is only the beginning of the war’s long-term impact on the Ukrainian population. Kept under the watchful eye of the invading forces from the moment of their capture until their forcible placement on Russian territory, there is no sure way to escape a process in which the wrong answer can cost them their lives,” the report says.

Screenshots from the video showing heavily armed Russian personnel waiting for and escorting refugees arriving by bus at Bezimenne Filtration Camp, Donetsk.

Luis G. Rendón/The Daily Beast/Getty/Center for Information Resilience

Throughout five months of war, Russian forces have routinely fired on evacuation buses transporting residents to safety in Ukrainian-controlled territory, blocked roads to thwart such evacuations, and in other cases, they kidnapped fleeing Ukrainians to use in propaganda videos for the Russian media. the report notes. In one case, Russian forces took captive a Ukrainian history teacher serving as an evacuation bus driver, Mikhail Pankov, before appearing, blindfolded, in a segment on Russian television that claimed he had been detained on Russian territory while allegedly acting. as an observer for the Ukrainian army.

“I beg you, please give me back my dad. We are doing very poorly without him, we miss him. Please give my dad back to me,” Pankov’s 12-year-old daughter pleaded in a harrowing video on social media after her capture in May.

Evacuation buses covered in bullet holes, civilians awaiting evacuation near Mariupol, and video screenshots detailing the living conditions experienced by civilians detained in Bezimenne.

Luis G. Rendón/The Daily Beast/Getty/Center for Information Resilience

The 30-page report from the Center for Information Resilience also pinpoints the locations of 11 “leak” camps in the occupied Donetsk region. While Russia has claimed that the camps are simply “checkpoints” for refugees hoping to reach safety, arriving refugees are often surrounded by heavily armed Russian forces and greeted by Russian Federal Security Service agents. Russia.

Ominously, footage secretly filmed at one of the camps in Donetsk, which the Center for Information Resilience geolocated to a school in the village of Bezimenne outside Mariupol, showed hundreds of Ukrainian men being held captive despite having passed the process of “leakage” from Russia. .

A man detained in the same building who filmed the footage and shared it on Telegram said Russians overseeing the captives were heard saying they had not yet decided whether they would use the men to fight for the Russian army or as “work for the demolition of the rubble of Mariupol,” says the report.

“When in Russian custody, many refugees report being subjected to intense interrogation, often involving verbal abuse, threats or actual physical assault. Some people were reportedly simply never seen again.”

In many other cases, those who underwent Russia’s “leak” process described being extorted for bribes, or having their phones confiscated by Russian interrogators only to retrieve them with newly installed programs intended to track their activities.

Journalist Stanislav Miroshnichenko described the process to TV current time in mid June. “A person he was talking to watched a show on his phone. It was a certain file that she uploaded to her phone via Bluetooth. In my opinion, it was called ‘Home Office Espionage’. I asked her if she had tried to delete the program from her phone. She replied that after she left, she turned off the phone and had not used it. I didn’t know how to erase it,” she said.

Those who pass are reportedly transported deep into Russia, where they report further interrogations before being welcomed into temporary accommodation centers by Russian state media, urging them to praise Moscow’s purported humanitarian efforts towards refugees.

Location of known leak camps in Donetsk, footage of a collection point for civilians fleeing war zones on the outskirts of Mariupol, and a screenshot from drone video of the leak camp in Bezimenne from May 2022 (left) and satellite image of the area from 2019 (Correct).

Luis G. Rendón/The Daily Beast/Getty/Center for Information Resilience

The Russian regions of Voronezh, Rostov and Krasnodar are said to have served as a settlement point for most of the deported Ukrainians, who are often promised job opportunities, payments and housing that they never get, or “free land” that turns out to be be deep in the desert and dense with trees and swamps.

Trapped in a system that forces them to go to Russia while presenting them with the illusion of choice, most will not have the money, connections, or even the mobility to attempt to escape.

Many refugees also find that their new accommodation in Russia comes with tough conditions. Although the Russian authorities give 10,000 rubles (about 175 dollars) to the Ukrainian families who arrive, if they want to stay, they have to pay more than half.

“They complained that they receive a one-time payment of 10,000 and pay 6,000 for the [mandatory] Russian language test,” a Russian woman who works with refugees told The Daily Beast.

“Of everything [the families I’ve worked with]only one supported Putin,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Perhaps worst of all, thousands of children have been swept up in Russia’s mass kidnapping scheme, many of them dubbed “orphans” and adopted by new Russian families, a fact that both Vladimir Putin and his children’s rights commissioner , Maria Lvova-Belova, affirm. They have spoken openly.

While Russian state media have provided glowing coverage of the Kremlin’s alleged “humanitarian” efforts to take in Ukrainian children they say were rescued from orphanages near the front line, Ukrainian authorities have said so-called “orphans” kidnapped, particularly in Mariupol, were actually torn from their families.

“Among those brought to the Russian Federation, there are new orphans who lost their parents as a result of the war and children from families that broke up. We know of cases where children were simply separated from their parents,” Pyotr Andryushchenko, assistant to the Ukrainian mayor of Mariupol, said At the end of june.

“We are sure that this is just part of the ‘denazification’ aimed at removing as many Ukrainian children as possible from the Ukrainian population. We fully understand, after what happened in Mariupol, that if the children go through the adoption process in two or three years, given their age, it will be very difficult to find their parents, and they themselves will not remember them . Andryushchenko said.

The independent media amplification reported in late June that hundreds of unaccompanied Ukrainian children were taken to a sports complex in Taganrog, in Russia’s Rostov region. Some of those children were later transferred to the Moscow region, where they were handed over to Russian families.

The Center for Information Resilience geolocated the makeshift temporary accommodation center where the children were detained in Taganrog, identifying it as the Dvorets Sports Complex. As of mid-March, a third of the refugees detained at the center were between the ages of 3 and 10, according to their report.

The families of thousands of Ukrainian children who went missing during the chaotic first days of Russia’s full-scale invasion are still searching for their children months later.

Tatyana and Yelena, two grandmothers from Mariupol, are among the most heartbreaking examples. Her little granddaughter, Nastya, disappeared along with her parents when the city came under heavy shelling on March 12, according to amplification. The building in which Nastya lived with both parents, Tatyana and Yelena’s daughter and son, caught fire after receiving a direct hit, but none of her bodies were found in the rubble.

Five months later, Tatyana Verstka saw a girl she was sure was Nastya being described as an “orphan” in a video aired by Russian state media last month that showed Ukrainian children being taken in by their new adoptive Russian families near Moscow.

She remembered her husband searching the house for a sedative to calm her down. After sending the pictures to Yelena, she also agreed that she was her missing granddaughter.

But after weeks of haggling with Russian authorities to verify the girl’s identity, a long-awaited meeting proved disappointing, Tatyana said. Although the Russian authorities did not agree to bring the girl in person, they provided photos and videos of her which were inspected by family friends who knew her well.

“It’s not Nastya. They couldn’t make a mistake. It’s not his nose, it’s not his big blue eyes,” Tatyana said.

She and Elena now continue the search for their children and granddaughter, who Tatyana recalls always refused to pick flowers like the other children, believing that both the bud and the flowers were meant to remain as one family.

“She thought that both the mother would be hurt and the children, the flowers, would be hurt. If they are separated, the shoots will wither and die.”

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