‘HOSTAGES’ IN CAMPS: Moscow accused of forcibly removing Ukrainian civilians to Russia

High profile Russians quitting jobs in opposition to the war.

By Associated Press

Ukraine accused Moscow of forcibly removing hundreds of thousands of civilians from shattered Ukrainian cities to Russia to pressure Kyiv to give up.

Meanwhile, a number of prominent Russians have  resigned their high profile positions in opposition to the war which entered its second month.

Lyudmyla Denisova, Ukraine’s ombudsperson, said 402,000 people, including 84,000 children, had been taken against their will into Russia, where some may be used as “hostages” to pressure Kyiv to surrender.

Ukraine officials say Russian troops are confiscating passports from Ukrainian citizens then moving them to “filtration camps” in Ukraine’s separatist-controlled east before sending them to various distant, economically depressed areas in Russia.

The Kremlin gave nearly identical numbers for those who have been relocated, but said they were from predominantly Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine and wanted to go to Russia. Pro-Moscow separatists have been fighting for control for nearly eight years in those regions, where many people have supported close ties to Russia.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said 6,000 of those forced to Russia were from the devastated port city of Mariupol, and 15,000 more people in a section of Mariupol under Russian control have had their identifying documents confiscated.

Some prominent Russians quit jobs, refuse to support war

The resignation of a senior Russian government official and his reported move abroad wasn’t the first voluntary departure of a person from a state job since the start of Russia’s war with Ukraine, but it was one of the most striking.

Anatoly Chubais, who was President Vladimir Putin’s envoy to international organizations on sustainable development, is well known in Russia. He held high profile posts for nearly three decades, beginning under Boris Yeltsin, the first post-Soviet leader.

A number of public figures have condemned the invasion of Ukraine and left their posts at state-run institutions and companies, which could signal divisions in Russia’s official ranks over the war. So far there have been no indications that the resignations have reached into Putin’s inner circle.

The handful of departures came as Putin blasted those opposing his course as “scum and traitors,” which Russian society would spit out “like a gnat.”

Arkady Dvorkovich once served as Russia’s deputy prime minister and is currently chairman of the International Chess Federation, or FIDE. He criticized the war with Ukraine in comments made to Mother Jones magazine on March 14 and came under fire from the Kremlin’s ruling party.

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“Wars are the worst things one might face in life. Any war. Anywhere. Wars do not just kill priceless lives. Wars kill hopes and aspirations, freeze or destroy relationships and connections. Including this war,” he said.

Lilia Gildeyeva was a longtime anchor at the state-funded NTV channel, which for two decades has carefully toed the Kremlin line. She quit the job and left Russia shortly after the invasion.

She told the independent news site The Insider this week that she decided “to stop all this” on the first day of the Feb. 24 invasion.

Gildeyeva said news coverage on state TV channels was tightly controlled by the authorities, with channels getting orders from officials. She admitted to going along with it since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea and began supporting a separatist insurgency in Ukraine.

“When you gradually give in to yourself, you don’t notice the depth of the fall. And at some point, you find yourself face to face with the picture that leads to Feb. 24,” she said.

Zhanna Agalakova was a journalist for another state-run TV channel, Channel One, spending more than 20 years there and working as an anchor and then a correspondent in Paris, New York and other Western countries.

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At a news conference in Paris confirming her resignation, Agalakova said, “My reports didn’t contain lies, but that’s exactly how propaganda works: You take reliable facts, mix them up, and a big lie comes together. Facts are true, but their mix is propaganda,” she said.

With the war headed into a second month, the two sides traded heavy blows in what has become a devastating war of attrition. Ukraine’s navy said it sank a large Russian landing ship near the port city of Berdyansk that had been used to bring in armored vehicles. Russia claimed to have taken the eastern town of Izyum after fierce fighting.

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