Russia blocks website where Ukrainian army soldiers can surrender

Russia has banned users nationwide from accessing “Hochu Zhit,” the Ukrainian state project’s website where soldiers can surrender to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Access to the website Hochu Zhit, which translates to “I want to live,” was blocked on Sunday under the supervision of Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office, which is currently headed by President Vladimir Putin’s ally Igor Krasnov. The ban was first reported by the Russian newspaper Kommersant, citing The Roskomscoboda Project, a non-governmental Russian anti-censorship organization.

“Twice the project was blocked… The first time by a ‘mask’ that restricted access to all domains and subdomains, the second time only to the entire website,” the newspaper reported.

Since October 4, Hochu Zhit has received more than 2,000 requests from Russian soldiers to voluntarily surrender to Ukrainian forces, with the number rising sharply after Putin’s announcement of partial mobilization.

The website states that Russian military personnel who surrender to the Armed Forces of Ukraine via the website or by calling affiliated hotlines will be treated fairly by the Kyiv Armed Forces, which promise to abide by the Geneva Conventions. In addition, Russian soldiers would receive three meals a day, legal counsel, and medical care.

When the website is blocked, Russian soldiers or their relatives and friends can still call the 24-hour number +38 066 580 34 98; +38 093 119 29 84 for more information about the handover. The hotlines are affiliated with the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.

From September 24, Russian soldiers who surrender, flee the war or disobey orders can be sentenced to 10 years in prison, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported, citing an amendment signed by Putin.

Russia’s attempt to block access to Ukraine’s Hochu Zhit website comes as the military death toll reached 65,000 on Sunday, according to estimates by Ukraine’s Defense Ministry. In addition to the dead, the Russian army has lost a total of 2,529 tanks, 5,193 armored personnel carriers, 1,589 artillery systems, 1,224 UAVs, and 3,959 vehicles and fuel tanks since the war began in February.

A Russian soldier on patrol in KhersonAFP / Olga MALTSEVA

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