Story 1: Ilia
Illia was a 19 y.o. young man living in Mariupol with his family, consisting of his mother and his 10 y. o. brother. Before Russia’s full-scale invasion, they lived on the left bank of the city. In March 2022, they all were forcibly deported to the Russian Federation by the occupiers.
The Russians sieged Mariupol; they forbid anyone to leave to Ukraine-controlled territories. The city was closed, even the green corridor by which some attempted to escape, was constantly shelled by Russian occupying forces. Such conditions deprived people of the right of movement and the possibility of choice. Illia’s family had a car, but they even couldn’t move to the right bank of the city, as the road passed through Azovstal plant, where battles were fought for a very long time.
One day in March, Russians gathered Mariupol citizens for filtration. Illia, his mother and little brother were pulled out of their flat and taken to a camp somewhere in the city. Ilia said: “This was horror. Russian soldiers bullied people there, shouted at them, and threatened them. The Russians didn’t care that they took thousands of lives and broke them. I felt the most severe stress there. It was even more stressful compared to when I had to run under the gun shots.”
The family passed the interrogations in the filtration camp. Then, Illia with his mother and brother were transferred by bus to Rostov region, Russia. The occupiers said they were taking them to a better place, but in fact they forcibly deported the family.
In a temporary accommodation centre, a special place for newly deported Ukrainians in Russia, they stayed for 5 days. Eventually, they managed to reach the border with Europe and escape from Russia. The family didn’t reveal the details of how it happened because it could put in danger many people.
Ilia’s younger brother, at the age of 10, experienced indescribable emotions that not every adult can live through. For him, the war experience was the hardest in the family, and now he has to undergo psychotherapy.
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