The civilians were allegedly taken to “filtration” camps that the city’s mayor likened to World War II-era concentration camps, where Russian forces allegedly seized their phones and documents before transporting them to other “remote cities in Russia, according to reports Saturday in the Kyiv Independent newspaper and the news site Ukrinform.
The news came from Mariupol City Council in a statement released on the messaging app Telegram, according to Ukrinform.
“Over the past week, several thousand residents of Mariupol have been taken to Russian territory,” the press release says. “The occupiers illegally drove away people from the Levoberezhny district and a bomb shelter in a sports club building, where more than a thousand people (mostly women and children) were hiding from constant bombing.”
The press release goes on to describe how the Ukrainian military “retreated from crowded places” in order to avoid attracting enemy bombing raids.
City officials compared the situation to Nazi concentration camps.
“What the occupiers are doing today is familiar to the older generation, who saw the horrific events of World War II, when the Nazis forcibly captured people,” the press release from Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said.
“It is hard to imagine that in the 21st century people can be forcibly taken to another country. Russian troops are not only destroying our peaceful Mariupol, they have gone even further and started driving away Mariupol residents. All war crimes by Russia must get the most severe punishment.”
Mariupol has endured some of the worst Russian shelling since the beginning of the war on Feb. 24. More than 300,000 people are trapped in the city with no electricity and dwindling supplies of food. Civilians, including children, have been sheltering in a theater that was bombed by Russian forces.