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Сivilians disappearing en masse in occupied Kherson Oblast, Vysokopillia hromada head says

Vysokopillia hromada in Kherson Oblast, which consists of 20 villages and 2 urban villages, was occupied by Russia’s military in March 2022. Recently, Ukrainian military deoccupied it. Media Initiative for Human Rights (MIPL) talked to the head of the hromada Hanna Shostak-Kuchmiak. She said that there was not a single village in the hromada where abductions and detentions are not reported.

Shostak-Kuchmiak told about her conversation with Vysokopillia resident, pensioner Fedir, during the Russian occupation.

“I approach, I ask: ‘Is it true that there are dead civilians in your basement?’ He turned white and shook. He said: “I’m afraid, I won’t speak.” I ask him: “Say one word – yes or no.” He says: “Yes.” And then he bursts out, saying that a couple of people were buried in the kindergarten. And others were taken to the food factory, of which nothing was left. And they [Russians] dumped people in the pit,” the hromada’s head told MIPL (Media Initiative for Human Rights).

She tried to persuade Fedir to move to another house, stressing that he was a witness and could be killed just like other civilians. Later, Russian military killed Fedir and he was buried by his neighbors.

In other villages of the community, people also disappear, Shostak-Kuchmiak says. She knows about one of the main places of detention of people in the village of Novovoznesenivka where hostages are kept in a school.

Locals from Visokopillia also informed her that a large mass grave was made near the local cultural center, where more than 20 people were buried.

Cases of torture, brutal treatment of civilians, destruction of property and sexual violence were already documented in the hromada.

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