People story


Story 28: Anna

In late March 2022, it was becoming impossible to survive in Mariupol under siege. No drinking water, no heat and food. Anna, 18, and her mother considered fleeing to Ukraine-controlled territory, but Russians constantly shelled the evacuation routes and the chances of dying were high. In this way, Russians limited the free will of citizens and provided only one way of getting out of Mariupol — to Russia. This accounts for forcible deportation, as people are deprived of the freedom of movement and are forced to agree to be transferred to the aggressor’s country. On April 4th, Anna and her mother settled for this way to get out of Mariupol.

They were lucky enough to skip the filtration camp on the border with Russia. But all the men in their bus were interrogated. Some of them didn’t return to the bus; one man was robbed and almost driven to a nervous breakdown. 

Anna and her mother were first transferred to a temporary accommodation centre in Taganrog, Russia. It was a sports school; the deportees were allowed to stay there only for one day. As Anna recalls, Russians were friendly and naive, as if they believed that they rescued “poor Ukrainians” from the Nazis. They provided deportees with hygiene products, food, and SIM-cards. They also proposed taking out a mortgage. These were done to make deported Ukrainians stay in Russia as long as possible.

Anna had distant relatives in Russia. She called them and asked them to take her away from the temporary accommodation centre. This was the only excuse for her family not to be transferred further in Russia, as all deportees in that TAC were further forcibly taken to Vladivostok.

Eventually, Anna and her mother reached out to the Russia-Finland border. Russians assured that they would be a burden to Finland, and they had better stay in Russia. They even interrogated Anna’s mother. After all, the family crossed the border. After being forcibly deported from Mariupol and going through hell in Russia, they now stay in Finland.


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