Russia is forcing the evacuation of 60,000 Ukrainians who may be moving to ‘depressed areas of Russia’

Tens of thousands of residents are expected to be resettled in the Russian-controlled parts of Ukraine’s Kherson, the region’s collaborationist government announced, as Ukrainian officials said people from the annexed territory were being sent to Russia’s “depressed areas”.

According to Volodymyr Saldo, the Russian-appointed “governor” of the occupied Kherson region, between 50,000 and 60,000 residents from four districts on the right bank of Kherson are to be relocated to the left bank of the Dnieper.

Affected civilians are also being relocated to regions in Russia, the Russian state news agency TASS reported.

The announced transfer, which is expected to last six days, came in preparation for a Ukrainian counter-offensive, Saldo claimed.

“In such a situation, I made a difficult but right decision to announce the organized movement of the civilian population of Berislav, Bilozerka, Snihurivka and Oleksandrivka,” he said in a statement.

Russian-backed authorities began moving Ukrainian civilians from the eponymous administrative center of the Kherson region on Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on the same day declared martial law in Kherson and three other partially Russian-occupied Ukrainian regions, Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhia.

A range of powers, including forced relocation and detention of citizens from countries believed to be at war with Russia, were reportedly granted to Russian-backed officials when martial law went into effect on Thursday.

“Putin’s Martial Law in the Annexed Regions of [Ukraine] prepares the mass deportation of the Ukrainian population to crisis areas [Russia] to change the ethnic composition of the occupied territory,” said Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, in a expression.

Such an act is “a crime that should be condemned by the United Nations,” he said.

More than 1.6 million Ukrainians have been forcibly returned to Russia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced earlier this month.

“They are scattered across the territory of this state, scattered across remote Russian regions,” Zelenskyy said in a video addressed to participants at a session of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States held in the Peruvian capital of Lima on Oct. 27, 6 .

Many of the deported Ukrainians had their papers taken away, and others were mistreated and intimidated when passing through Russian “filtration camps,” according to the Ukrainian head of state.

“These are people. But for Russia, [they are] also a resource,” said Zelensky.

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