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Disturbing report: thousands of Ukrainian civilians unjustly detained in Russian prisons as plans for expansion surface


ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine – Startling revelations have come to light, exposing the horrifying reality faced by thousands of Ukrainian civilians who are being unlawfully held in Russian prisons. Disturbing accounts of inhumane treatment and forced labor have emerged, painting a bleak picture of their harrowing experiences. Shockingly, Russia is now planning to build additional detention facilities, intensifying concerns about the human rights violations being perpetrated against Ukrainian civilians. This alarming situation, which contravenes the principles of the Geneva Conventions, demands immediate attention and action from the international community.

According to eyewitness testimonies provided by former detainees, the Ukrainian civilians were subjected to degrading conditions and severe abuse during their detention. Reports indicate that they were coerced into wearing oversized Russian military uniforms, putting their lives at risk on the front lines. Forced labor, including digging trenches for Russian soldiers in freezing temperatures, was imposed upon them, resulting in physical exhaustion and suffering. Tragically, those who refused to comply with these demands faced brutal consequences, including execution.

The scope of this crisis is extensive, with thousands of Ukrainian civilians held in various detention facilities across Russia and the occupied Ukrainian territories. The conditions range from newly constructed wings within Russian prisons to damp and oppressive basements. Disturbingly, most of the detainees lack any legal status under Russian law, exacerbating their vulnerability and denying them basic rights. Shockingly, Russia’s plans for further expansion were revealed in a government document obtained by The Associated Press, outlining the intention to establish 25 new prison colonies and six additional detention centers in occupied Ukraine by 2026.

Adding to the gravity of the situation, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree in May that allows for the deportation of Ukrainians from territories under martial law, such as occupied Ukraine, to regions without martial law, like Russia. This policy facilitates the indefinite exile of Ukrainians who resist Russian occupation, with documented cases of such deportations. The dire circumstances faced by detainees include arbitrary arrests, prolonged detention without charge, and accusations of terrorism or resistance against military operations. Shockingly, many are subjected to slave labor, being forced to dig trenches, construct fortifications, and even participate in the burial of mass graves. Instances of torture, including electric shocks, severe beatings, and simulated suffocation, are distressingly common. Numerous former prisoners have reported witnessing deaths, and a recent United Nations report documented 77 summary executions and one death resulting from torture.

Russia has consistently denied any acknowledgement of holding civilians and has remained silent about its motives for these detentions. However, it is evident that these prisoners are treated as bargaining chips for potential exchanges with Russian soldiers. Moreover, there is mounting evidence suggesting that Russian forces are employing civilians as human shields near the front lines, a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law.

The Associated Press has extensively investigated this matter, interviewing multiple sources, including former detainees, prisoners of war, families of individuals in detention, Ukrainian intelligence officials, and a government negotiator. Their accounts, supported by satellite imagery, social media posts, government documents, and correspondence delivered by the Red Cross, provide undeniable evidence of the widespread detention and mistreatment of Ukrainian civilians by Russian authorities.

Olena Yahupova, the city administrator from Zaporizhzhia, forcefully expressed the urgency of addressing this crisis, stating, “It’s a business of human trafficking. If we don’t talk about it and keep silent, then tomorrow anyone can be there — my neighbor, acquaintance, child.”

The situation demands immediate international attention and intervention to safeguard the rights and well-being of Ukrainian civilians, ensure their release from unlawful detention, and hold Russia accountable for its grave violations of human rights and international law. remains committed to reporting on crucial developments surrounding this issue and advocating for justice and respect for human dignity.

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