Mariupol residents forced to evacuate to Russia

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Authorities in Mariupol have claimed that Russian forces were forcing civilians of the besieged Ukrainian city to evacuate to Russia, while some were also being asked to move to remote areas.

In a statement on Saturday, the Mariupol City Council said the Russian forces took residents of the Left Bank district, as well as citizens, mostly women and children, who were hiding in a shelter under the building of a sports club, Ukrayinska Pravda reported.

Units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine withdrew from the sports club and nearby residential buildings in an effort to stop the Russians from attacking these areas of concentrated population.

“Russian troops took advantage of this and captured the residents,” the City Council added.

The Council further claimed that the citizens were forcibly deported to Russia but were first placed in filtration camps.

After checking documents and mobile phones, some were sent to remote Russian regions, it added.

“What the occupiers are doing today is familiar to the older generation, who saw the horrific events of World War II, when the Nazis forcibly captured people. It is hard to imagine people being forcibly deported in the 21st century,” said Mayor Vadym Boychenko.

“Not only are Russian troops destroying our peaceful Mariupol, but they have also gone even further and started deporting Mariupol residents. All Russian war crimes must be severely punished.”

Street fighting and aerial attacks are continuing in the centre of the strategic southern port of Mariupol, as Russian forces are trying to seize control of the city.

The Mariupol City Council has said that the Russians drop 50 to 100 bombs on the city every day. Eighty-ninety per cent of the buildings have been destroyed as a result, with irreparable damages.

The situation is desperate, with as many as 300,000 civilians unable to evacuate.

Mariupol has seen some of the fiercest battles since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

The location of the port city, on the Sea of Azov, is strategic for Russia, as it would help it create a land corridor between the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, controlled by Russian-backed separatists, and Crimea, the peninsula it invaded and annexed in 2014, the BBC reported.

The authorities in Mariupol have said that at least 2,500 people have been killed in the city so far.

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