People story

Story 16: Yulia

Yulia and her two sons, Ivan, 5, and Matthew, 11, were forcibly deported to Russia. The family was forced to undergo several filtration camps, but abandoned Russian passports and escaped from captivity.

Rubizhne, a border city between Ukraine and the temporarily occupied Luhansk, was heavily shelled from the first day of the full-scale war. Yulia was hiding in a basement with her children and neighbors. The woman attempted to reach out to volunteers, but they were unable to come pick up the family due to the fights in the city.

When the Russian forces took Rubizhne, Kadyrovets found Yulia and her family. They were told that they had 4 minutes to pack. The family was taken by bus to Milove, a checkpoint between Ukraine and Russia. Then they had to walk 6–7 kilometers to the Russian border. There, the family was interrogated for a couple of hours.

They were deported to Russia after that. Upon arrival at the House of Creativity in the Rostov oblast, the family was again interrogated. Afterward, Yulia, Ivan, 5, and Matthew, 11, were transported to St. Petersburg. The road took 36 hours.

The family was again interrogated at the train station in St. Petersburg. Yulia lied about having family in the city, and that they would pick them up. She did this to avoid being taken anywhere again.

Yulia, in fact, had acquaintances who helped her reach the Estonian border. After going through double interrogation, the family was finally allowed to leave Russia. Despite several filtration camps, long hours of interrogation, and thousands of kilometers of road, Yulia escaped Russia, where she was forcibly deported to.


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