Russia is holding 2,500 Ukrainians captive, including many civilians. Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for the Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories, Iryna Vereshchuk, said this in an interview with BBC News Ukrainian, Ukrinform reports.

“We are talking about 2,500 prisoners. People remain in captivity, and the worst thing is that there are civilians there. Civilians have not been released as part of several swaps in a row,” she said.

At the same time, Vereshchuk insists that Russia should return, rather than exchange civilians.

She also emphasized that there are many women among the prisoners.

“Many women remain in captivity. If you consider that 131 women left Azovstal, then imagine how many women are in captivity. Only a few returned. Women must be liberated. They are treated terribly. They [the Russians] abuse them, they beat our women, they torture our women. The world should not silently watch and observe our women being killed in prison,” Vereshchuk said.

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In addition, according to her, Ukrainian men still have the opportunity to leave the territories temporarily occupied by Russia.

“There is a possibility to leave. I get statistics every night. Both men and women leave. Men leave through Vasylivka – that is, everything is possible. 1,200-1,600 people leave from the temporarily occupied territories every day,” Vereshchuk said.

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She called on the residents of the temporarily occupied territories to avoid participating in pseudo-referendums organized by Russia so as not to help the enemy legalize their lawlessness in the temporarily occupied territories.

On Sep. 21, as part of a prisoner swap, more than 200 Ukrainian defenders, including 124 officers, as well as ten foreigners, were returned from Russian captivity. Lawmaker Viktor Medvedchuk, suspected of treason, and 55 Russian soldiers were handed over to the Russian side.

 

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