Since the beginingof the full-scale conflict, Ukraine has reported the abduction of 132 Ukrainian officials by Russian forces. 14 of these individuals remain in captivity.
Since the commencement of the full-scale conflict, Ukraine has reported the abduction of 132 Ukrainian officials by Russian forces. Shockingly, as of the latest information, 14 of these individuals remain in captivity, while four have tragically lost their lives. The revelations were made public by Borys Petrunyok, a researcher and documentarian affiliated with the ZMINA Center for Human Rights, during a press conference titled "Attack on Local Government: Abductions by Russian Forces".
Petrunyok underscored that individuals representing local government and local authorities have become a particularly vulnerable segment of the civilian population within the occupied regions, targeted and persecuted by the occupying forces.
According to Petrunyok's findings, since the onset of the full-scale invasion, Russians have forcibly taken 132 representatives of Ukrainian local government and local authorities into custody. A staggering 71% of these abductions occurred in the Kherson Oblast, with an additional 30 cases documented in the Zaporizhia Oblast.
Notably, 50% of those apprehended held positions as heads of OTGs (United Territorial Communities) or city mayors, while an additional 22% were local government deputies.
While the grim statistics reveal the ordeal faced by these officials, there is a glimmer of hope as 98 individuals have been successfully released. Nevertheless, the fate of 16 others remains unknown, and the worst has been confirmed for four victims who lost their lives while in captivity.
Borys Petrunyok pointed out that the abductions were concentrated in the initial months of the conflict. He shed light on the motivations behind these acts, explaining that officials from local government bodies in occupied territories are a vital source of information, offering insights into various aspects such as population demographics, the regional defense situation, and the state of infrastructure.
Additionally, these officials often possess significant social influence within their regions, making them valuable assets in the eyes of the occupiers.
Another disturbing aspect Petrunyok highlighted is the occupiers' attempts to coerce these officials into collaboration.
He concluded by emphasizing the unfortunate reality that no civilian residing in the occupied territories is immune from the threat of abduction. While specific categories of citizens are targeted for various reasons, this overall situation underscores the pervasive risks faced by all residents in these regions.