People story


Story 28: Anna

Anna, 17, was on the verge of finishing school in Mariupol when Russia started the full-scale war against Ukraine. By late March 2022, life in the besieged city had become unbearable — there was no drinking water, heat, or food. Anna and her mother contemplated fleeing to Ukraine-controlled territory, but Russian forces persistently shelled the evacuation routes, making the risk of death high. In this manner, the Russians restricted the citizens’ freedom of movement, leaving them with only one way out of Mariupol — toward Russia. This constitutes forced deportation, as people are left with no choice but to relocate to the aggressor’s country. On April 4th, Anna and her mother opted for this route to escape Mariupol.


They were fortunate to bypass the filtration camp at the Russian border. However, all the men on their bus were interrogated. Some never returned to the bus; one man was even robbed and nearly suffered a nervous breakdown.

Anna and her mother were initially taken to a temporary accommodation center in Taganrog, Russia, which was a sports school. They were allowed to stay there for just one day. According to Anna, the Russians seemed friendly and naive, as if convinced they were rescuing “poor Ukrainians” from “Nazis”. They provided the deportees with hygiene products, food, and SIM cards, and even suggested taking out mortgages. All these actions appeared aimed at encouraging the deported Ukrainians to remain in Russia for as long as possible.

Anna had distant relatives in Russia and contacted them to pick her up from the temporary accommodation center. This was the only reason her family was not further relocated within Russia, as all other deportees at that center were forcibly moved to Vladivostok.

Eventually, Anna and her mother made it to the Russia-Finland border. Russian authorities tried to dissuade them, claiming they would be a burden to Finland and suggesting they’d be better off staying in Russia. They even interrogated Anna’s mother. Despite these obstacles, the family managed to cross the border. After being forcibly deported from Mariupol and enduring hardships in Russia, they now reside in Finland.


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