Vereshchuk: Russia keeps 1,500 Ukrainian civilians in prison
Russia illegally holds 1,500 Ukrainian civilians in prison, but admits it only holds 120 civilians.
Vice Prime Minister - Minister for Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine Irina Vereshchuk announced this at a briefing.
She said that according to the Geneva Conventions, captured military personnel can be exchanged, but the provisions of the conventions do not apply to the civilian population. Accordingly, there is no mechanism for the return of the captured civilian population.
"We have more than 1.5 thousand civilians today in Russian prisons. They are in Rostov, Kursk, they are in jail, and they are sitting like prisoners of war, although they should not be prisoners. They are not interned, they do not have international status humanitarian law, and they should have been released," Vereshchuk stressed.
In this regard, she asks international governments and societies to put pressure on Russia, demanding the return of Ukrainian civilians to Ukraine.
According to her, among the Ukrainian civilians abducted by Russia, there are volunteers, activists, journalists, priests, deputies of local councils, heads of communities, who have already been in captivity for 70-80, and some for more than 100 days.
"Russia has recognized 120 people as civilians in their captivity. There is not a single woman among them," Vereshchuk said.
She noted that Russia refused to admit that it was holding in captivity Ukrainian women - both civilians and military personnel.
"We have hundreds of women who are in captivity," the Deputy Prime Minister said.
At the same time, according to her, only 103 civilians were returned during the exchanges.
The Deputy Prime Minister said there is still a category of civilian Ukrainians who were deported to Russia. And the Ukrainian data on the deportees differ from the figures announced by the Russian side.
"But the Russian side never tells the truth and in this case was not going to do it either. They talk about almost 2 million. Our intelligence data suggests that this is about 1 million 200 thousand people," Vereshchuk said and added that for the return of these people will have to fight.
In addition, there are 240,000 children among them.
She also said that it is tough to return orphans who have been taken to Russia. “And today, according to the register, we have 2,161 orphans who were illegally taken to the Russian Federation and are being kept there,” Vereshchuk said. She recalled that she was no longer engaged in exchanging prisoners of war.
"They are dealt with by the head of the coordinating headquarters, which is Kirill Budanov, head of the Main Intelligence Directorate, because we are talking about prisoners of war and, in particular, about the defenders of Azovstal, about that military who were taken out under the agreements and on the condition that I unknown," Vereshchuk added.