People story


Story 32: Yevhen

Yevhen, 51, was in Kharkiv during the initial days of Russia’s full-scale invasion. Starting from March 9, 2022, he participated in the evacuation of people from the temporarily occupied villages of Vylkhyvka and Mala Rohan. Despite the fact that these two villages were under Russian occupation, Yevhen continued to evacuate people, disregarding the dangers and constant shelling. He helped dozens of individuals reach territories controlled by Ukraine. On March 28, Russian troops stopped his car under suspicion that he was communicating with the Armed Forces of Ukraine about Russia’s military positions. They forcibly pulled out of Yevhen from the car and restrained his arms and legs using plastic zip ties.

Yevhen and six other Ukrainians were held captive for one and a half days in a cattle barn in Vylkhyvka. When he was taken captive, the Russians confiscated all of his documents and his phone. Yevhen and the other captives were denied access to water, food, and the use of toilets. He was subjected to interrogation and physical torture, resulting in the loss of two teeth. Yevhen recalls that it was the Chechens who carried out these acts, and he remembers the nicknames of two individuals involved — “Angel” and “Shaman.”

On March 30, Yevhen and the other six captives were forcibly deported to Belgorod, Russia, and placed in a temporary accommodation center. The following day, Yevhen was transferred to Voronezh along with 100 other individuals from that center. He resided in a facility for deported Ukrainians in Voronezh for eight months. Russian authorities closely monitored him and subjected him to constant interrogations for two months. Yevhen recalls that each room in the facility had a TV that only broadcasted Russian news with propaganda. The deportees refrained from watching it as they were aware of its brainwashing intent.

Yevhen had neither money nor documents as they were taken away by the Russians. He refused to obtain Russian residence. He witnessed other deported Ukrainians who obtained Russian residence and received a one-time monetary transfer of around 10 thousand rubles, as well as those who attempted to find employment to survive in Russia.

Yevhen attempted to contact volunteer organizations that assist deported Ukrainians in leaving Russia. One organization turned him down due to his lack of documents, while two others, Helping to Leave and Rubikus, took on his case.

He managed to escape from Russia by traveling through Belarus and Lithuania, eventually reaching Belgium where he currently resides. After experiencing captivity and being forcibly deported to Russia, Yevhen states that he must start his life anew at the age of 51.


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