Story 20: Anton
Anton, a resident of a nursing home in Kakhovka, Kherson region, was a man with disabilities. He was friends with Bohdan and Oleksandr, which led to their fates becoming intertwined. After seven months of Russian occupation in the Kherson region, the Russians appointed a new director and staff for the nursing home – a female collaborator who had previously worked there as a nurse. She decided to “relocate” all residents, citing potential dangers, but in reality, this was forced deportation. Anton, Bohdan, and Oleksandr requested permission from the new director to move to Ukraine-controlled territory. Initially, they were promised this, but the next day, two armed and masked Russian soldiers arrived, confined Anton to a room and interrogated him.
On November 5, four buses and several ambulances from Russia arrived at the nursing home. All residents were forcibly loaded onto buses bound for Voronezh, Russia. At the station, Russian propaganda TV covered the arrival of these forcibly deported Ukrainians. Anton and Oleksandr were subsequently taken to a boarding house in Lower Karachan Village, Gribanovsky District, Voronezh Region.
There, Anton felt isolated. He lacked access to basic amenities, couldn’t move around freely, and was labeled a “Nazi’ by other Russian residents of the boarding house in Voronezh. After two months, Anton connected with volunteers who helped him reach the Russian-Estonian border. At the border, Russian soldiers interrogated him for three hours but ultimately allowed him to pass.
Anton ended up in Norway, where he currently resides in a refugee camp. He is one of the few individuals who were deported from the nursing home in Kakhovka and managed to escape Russia. Many have lost hope of ever returning from their forced exile.