People story


Story 29: Svitlana

Svitlana, the 24-year-old woman from a Mariupol suburb, was forcibly deported upon the city’s full siege by Russian troops. The occupiers did not ask whether Svitlana and her family members wanted to go to Russia, but they simply loaded them on buses to filtration. She and her family members were interrogated. The Russians especially questioned males. As Svitlana recalls, not all men go through filtration. Her family was lucky in some sense: nobody was hurt.

After filtration on the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine, Svitlana and her family were taken by buses to the Russian border. They had to stay on the bus before the border crossing for many hours. The night was cold, and the buses did not have heating. There were no toilets. It was especially hard on the children and older people, Svitlana said. At the crossing, an official distributed migration cards to fill out, as well as an application form to receive a one-time payment of 10,000 rubles from the Russian government, which she and her family members refused. Then all of them underwent a second filtration. This time, Svitlana was questioned for longer. The woman said the interrogator took down the IMEl number of her phone and asked her numerous questions in what she felt was a threatening manner.

Svitlana and her family members were then taken to Taganrog, where they stayed in a temporary accommodation centre. There the woman realized they had to run as quickly as possible because she heard TAC’s centre talking about transferring newcomers further in the depth of Russia. Luckily, Svitlana had money. She and her family took trains to St. Petersburg and then to the Estonian border. Svitlana and her family crossed it.