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Inside Russia’s Mass Kidnapping Scheme with ‘Kafka’.

Almost six months after Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine, with Up to 1.6 million Ukrainians were forcibly taken to Russia So far, Ukrainian authorities say Russian forces are now using civilians as front-line cannon fodder and feigning artillery strikes to trick them into crossing the border.

Just this week, Ukrainian authorities in Kozacha Lopan, a village occupied by Russian forces in the Kharkiv region, he said Residents were rounded up and forcibly “evacuated” in Russia’s Belgorod region after being tricked into boarding buses by soldiers who told them they had to leave to escape “heavy shelling” in the area. There was no such bombing, authorities said.

In the occupied Luhansk region, the authorities they say 80 civilian men in the city of Starobilsk were forcibly sent to the front lines this week alone, sent to die for the Russian forces who forcibly took control of the area.

It’s all part of a “Kafka system” set up by Russia to systematically wipe out the Ukrainian population by forcibly “Russifying” hundreds of thousands of citizens, according to a new report detailing Russia’s network of refugee “filtering” camps.

Moscow has brought to life the nightmarish fantasy world of Franz Kafka with a pattern of lies being fed to Ukrainians that are impossible to believe and yet there is no escape.

The Center for Information Resilience, a nonprofit that uses open source information to monitor Russia’s activities in Ukraine, has compiled a new dossier — shared with The Daily Beast — about the network of camps and temporary shelters it uses Moscow to kidnap literally hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians in public.

“Ukrainian refugees are presented with the illusion of choice from the moment of their arrest until their involuntary resettlement on Russian soil. They are trapped in a Kafka-like system that works against them. Their forced displacement is only the beginning of the war’s long-term effects on the Ukrainian population. Under the watchful eye of the invading forces from the time of their capture to their forcible placement on Russian soil, there is no safe way to escape a process in which the wrong response could cost them their lives,” the report says.

Stills from the video showing heavily armed Russian personnel waiting and escorting refugees arriving by bus at the Bezimenne filtering camp, Donetsk.

Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty/Centre for Information Resilience

During five months of war, Russian forces have regularly fired on evacuation buses carrying residents to safe territory controlled by Ukraine, have blocked roads to prevent such evacuations, and in other cases have kidnapped fleeing Ukrainians for use in propaganda videos for Russian media. the report notes. In one case, a Ukrainian history teacher serving as an evacuation bus driver, Mykhailo Pankov, was taken prisoner by Russian forces before appearing, blindfolded, on a segment of Russian television claiming he had been detained on Russian soil while allegedly that he was acting as an observer of the Ukrainian army.

“I’m begging you, please give my father back. We are doing very badly without him, we miss him. Please bring my dad back,” Pankov’s 12-year-old daughter pleaded in a shocking video on social media after his arrest in May.

Evacuation buses covered in bullet holes, civilians awaiting evacuation near Mariupol and video footage detailing the living conditions experienced by civilian detainees in Bezimenne.

Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty/Centre for Information Resilience

The 30-page report by the Intelligence Resilience Center also points to the locations of 11 “infiltration” camps in the occupied Donetsk region. While Russia has claimed the camps are merely “checkpoints” for refugees hoping to reach safety, arriving refugees are often surrounded by heavily armed Russian forces and greeted by agents of Russia’s Federal Security Service.

Ominously, footage secretly filmed in one of the camps in Donetsk, which the Center for Information Resilience geolocated to a school in the village of Bezimenne on the outskirts of Mariupol, showed hundreds of Ukrainian men being held captive despite going through the process “ filtering” of Russia. .

A man held in the same building who took the video and shared it on Telegram said Russians overseeing the captives were heard saying they had not yet decided whether to use the men to fight for the Russian military or as “work for the demolition of the ruins of Mariupol”, the report states.

“When detained in Russia, many refugees report being subjected to intense interrogation, often with verbal abuse, threats or actual physical assault. According to reports, some people were simply never seen again.”

In many other cases, those subjected to Russia’s “filtering” process described being shaken down for bribes or having their phones confiscated by Russian investigators only to have them returned with newly installed programs meant to monitor their activities.

Journalist Stanislav Miroshnichenko described the process Current Time TV in mid-June. “One person I was talking to saw a program on his phone. It was a specific file uploaded to his phone via Bluetooth. In my view it was called ‘Home Office Wiretapping’. I asked him if he had tried deleting the program from his phone. He replied that after he left, he hung up the phone and hadn’t used it. He didn’t know how to delete it,” she said.

Those who cross are reportedly then taken deep into Russia, where they report additional interrogations before being met in temporary accommodation centers by Russian state media, prompting them to praise Moscow’s supposed humanitarian efforts for the refugees.

Location of known infiltration camps in Donetsk, photos of a pick-up point for civilians fleeing war zones just outside Mariupol, and a snapshot of drone video of the infiltration camp in Bezimenne from May 2022 (left) and a satellite image of the area from in 2019 (correct).

Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty/Centre for Information Resilience

Russia’s Voronezh, Rostov and Krasnodar regions are said to have served as the settlement point for most of the deported Ukrainians, who are often promised job opportunities, payments and housing they never get — or “free land” that turns out to be deep in in the wilderness and thick with trees and swamps.

“Trapped in a system that forces them to head for Russia while presenting the illusion of choice, most will not have the money, connections or even mobility to attempt an escape,” the report notes.

Many refugees also find that their new stay in Russia comes with heavy strings attached. While the Russian authorities give 10,000 rubles (about $175) to the arriving Ukrainian families, if they want to stay, they must pay more than half.

“They complained that they get a lump sum payment of 10,000 and pay 6,000 for the [mandatory] Russian language exams,” a Russian woman who works with refugees told the Daily Beast.

“From all [the families I’ve worked with]only one supported Putin,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Worse, perhaps, thousands of children have been swept up in Russia’s mass abduction program – many of them labeled “orphans” and adopted into new Russian families, a fact that both Vladimir Putin and his children’s rights commissioner, Maria Lvova- Belova. have erupted openly approx.

While Russian state media provided glowing coverage of the Kremlin’s supposed “humanitarian” efforts to take in Ukrainian children it claims were rescued from orphanages near the front lines, Ukrainian authorities said the so-called “orphans” they seized, particularly in Mariupol , they were actually taken away from their families.

“Among those brought to the Russian Federation, there are new orphans who lost their parents as a result of the war and children from separated families. We know of cases where children were simply taken away from their parents,” said Pyotr Andyushchenko, assistant to the Ukrainian mayor of Mariupol. he said at the end of June.

“We are sure that this is just part of the ‘de-Zenizization’ aimed at removing as many Ukrainian children as possible from the Ukrainian population. We understand very well, after what happened in Mariupol, that if children go through the adoption process in two or three years, given their age, it will be very difficult to find their parents and they themselves will not remember them. Andryushchenko said.

The independent news media Verstka reported in late June that hundreds of unaccompanied Ukrainian children were taken to a sports complex in Taganrog, Russia’s Rostov region. Some of these children were later taken to the Moscow region, where they were handed over to Russian families.

The Information Resilience Center geo-located the makeshift temporary shelter where children were being held in Taganrog, identifying it as the Dvorets sports complex. As of mid-March, a third of the refugees held at the center were between the ages of 3 and 10, according to their report.

The families of thousands of Ukrainian children who went missing during the chaotic early days of Russia’s wide-scale invasion are still searching for their children months later.

Tatiana and Yelena, two grandmothers from Mariupol, are among the most terrifying examples. Their young granddaughter, Nastya, disappeared with both her parents when the city was heavily bombed on March 12, according to Verstka. The building where Nastya lived with her two parents – Tatyana and Yelena’s daughter and son – burned down after a direct hit, but none of their bodies were found in the wreckage.

Five months later, Tatiana told Verstka, she spotted a little girl she was sure Nastya described as an “orphan” in footage aired by Russian state media last month showing Ukrainian children who had allegedly been lost their entire families to be received by their new Russian adoptive families near Moscow.

She remembered her husband looking around the house for a sedative to calm her down. After sending Yelena the video, she also agreed that she was the missing granddaughter.

But after weeks of haggling with Russian authorities to verify the little girl’s identity, a long-awaited meeting proved disappointing, Tatiana said. Although Russian authorities did not agree to bring the girl in person, they provided photos and videos of her that were inspected by family friends who knew her well.

“It’s not Nastya. They could do no wrong. It’s not her nose, it’s not her big blue eyes,” Tatiana was quoted as saying.

She and Elena now continue their search for their children and granddaughter, who Tatiana remembers always refused to pick flowers like other children, believing that both the bud and the flowers were meant to stay as a whole family.

“He thought that the mother would also be hurt and the children – the flowers – would be hurt. If they were separated, the buds would wither and die.”

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