Russian passports distributed among Ukrainian deportees

An audience hall in the Russian-occupied part of Donetsk Oblast used as one of filtration camps for the Mariupol residents awaiting the forced deportation to Russia, March-April 2022. Photo: Screenshots from Current Time's video

Russian Aggression

Russia forcibly issues its passports to Ukrainians deported to the Russian territory from Ukraine, which is a direct violation of international legislature, the Ukrainian Parliament’s Commissioner for Human Rights Lyudmyla Denisova informed on Facebook.

According to the Ombudswoman, Russia distributes the passports among the Ukrainian citizens who were forcibly deported from the occupied territories of Ukraine to various regions of the aggressor country by the Russian forces.

“By intimidating the most vulnerable categories of people – women, people with disabilities, and pensioners, – the aggressor’s authorities received from them almost 14,000 applications for Russian citizenship and issued 12,000 passports,” Denisova wrote.

Lyudmyla Denisova says that such actions of the occupiers are aimed at continuing the forced integration of Ukrainians into Russia’s political, economic, and humanitarian space.

Ms. Denisova stresses that Russia’s forced passportization is illegal and Ukraine doesn’t recognize it,

“It contradicts the principles and norms of international law and is a direct violation of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War,” Denisova added.

The Ukrainian Ombudsperson calls on the UN and the OSCE states to “take into account these human rights violations in Ukraine.”

Russia’s forced deportation of Ukrainians

As of 31 March, the number of the Ukrainians deported to Russia was 402,000, including 84,000 children, according to Denisova.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, from 24 February to 11 April, 433,083 Ukrainian refugees found themselves in Russia. However, it is unknown how many of those fled to Russia voluntary and how many were forcibly deported.

In their recent statement, the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs called Russia’s forced deportation of Ukrainians a war crime:

“The forced displacement of population or deportation of Ukrainian citizens by the occupying authorities of the Russian Federation is a gross violation of human rights, as well as a war crime in the sense of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court,” the statement reads and later says that forcible transfers and deportations to the territory of the occupying power are prohibited under Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention.

The ministry called on the UN, the Red Cross, and other international organizations to “immediately facilitate the rapid return of Ukrainian citizens” from Russia to Ukraine or to democratic countries which support Ukrainian refugees.

The deportation process

According to the accounts of deportees, and reports by Ukrainian officials and human rights organizations, before the forced deportation to Russia, the Ukrainian nationals undergo searches and checks in the so-called filtration camps.

The Russian forces collect biometric data of those being deported, copy the data from their mobile phones, question them. In this way, the Russian special services have been trying to identify pro-Ukrainian citizens in order to send them to the prisons of occupied Luhansk and Donetsk.

According to the adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, Petro Andryushchenko, every resident of his besieged city in the Russian-occupied part of Mariupol aged over 18 years old has been subjected to the filtration procedure regardless of their gender.

“According to available information, about 5% don’t pass the filtration due to their pro-Ukrainian position and disappear,” Andryushchenko reported.

Ukrainian Deputy PM Iryna Vereshchuk said that Russia holds a total of approximately 1,700 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians in the prisons of Russia proper and the occupied parts of Ukraine’s Donbas region. About 500 of those captives are women.

“They talked to us like we were criminals” – how Russian occupiers deported me from Mariupol

Those who have passed the Russian “filtration” process enter Russia and get sent to random Russian regions, where they are placed in refugee camps. The deportees can apply for the Russian citizenship or refugee status. Taken away from their frontline cities, most of the deported don’t have either a possibility to return to their homes even if their homes remain intact, or even money to leave Russia.

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