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Ukraine launches “I want to find” project to aid families of Russian POWs

With Russia providing little information on the fate of its soldiers in Ukraine, relatives are now looking to a new Ukrainian project for help finding captured troops.
Russian POWs in Ukraine
Russian POWs on the territory of a colony in UKraine. Photo: Meduza.io

The Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry has presented the “I Want to Find” project for relatives of Russian military personnel captured in Ukraine, RFE/RL reported. Specifically, Telegram chatbots and a website where you can find out whether a specific Russian soldier is in captivity or has not died.

“The Russian Federation does not properly communicate with family members of occupying military personnel, does not provide information about their fate after they ended up as invaders in Ukraine. This applies to both missing persons, prisoners of war, and those killed,” said Andrii Yusov, a representative of the Main Intelligence Directorate, at the project presentation.

According to Yusov, there have even been cases when Ukraine, for example, handed over soldiers’ bodies to Russia, but their relatives did not receive any information at all.

Therefore, as stated on the project’s Internet resources, “I Want to Find” was created in view of “Ukraine’s adherence to the principles of international humanitarian law in order to fill the information vacuum that has arisen due to the inaction of the Russian authorities.”

“Hundreds appeal to the ‘I Want to Live’ project channels every day. It was decided to launch the ‘I Want to Find’ project as the only center for finding Russian military personnel. To provide information to their families. So that they go to representatives of their government with this information, demand exchanges or the return of remains,” said Vitalii Matviienko, spokesman for the state project, during a briefing.

There, they predict receiving several thousand appeals per week.

Russian citizen Irina Krinina, who recently arrived in Ukraine in search of her captured husband, will also help implement the project in Ukraine. According to her, Russia does not provide its citizens with any information, while Ukraine is ready to do so.

“We will collect requests, and if a relative is captured in Ukraine… we will organize a video call to confirm and give the Russian person the opportunity to go and demand information from the state, say: ‘Here is my Vasia in captivity!’ That is, we provide tools,” Krinina said.

At the very start of Russia’s invasion on 24 February 2022, Ukraine set up a hotline for families of Russian KIA and POW soldiers.

As well, Ukraine maintains a surrender hotline for Russian military personnel.

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