Russian Civilians Have Been Helping Ukrainians Transported & Dispersed In Russia Escape To The West
It has been revealed that Russian human rights activists have formed an "underground railroad" that is helping Ukrainians who have been transported to Russia escape to the West.
Russian activists who have spoken out to i newspaper have described how a group of ordinary Russian citizens have formed a vast human chain and are sending people, including those from Mariupol, from city to city until they reach the border.
Following a month-long investigation carried out by i that has shown that Russia is dispersing Ukrainians throughout a network of remote camps in former Soviet sanatoriums and other sites stretching along the route of the Trains-Siberian Railway to Vladivostok.
"There is an impressive grassroots organisation on many levels. There are groups that collect clothes and toys for children, said one Russian activist to i. They added: "Others put people up in their homes for a few nights, buy train tickets and take them to the station. We are sharing messages and passing people on to groups in other cities, who are helping them get over the border."
This particular Russian activist described how they had personally welcomed a family from Mariupol into their home before helping them catch a train to another Russian city.
The source added, "Now they are travelling to Poland."
Although some of the Ukrainians who have been taken to Russia are planning to stay in the country due to family links that stretch beyond national identities, or a lack of resources to allow them to properly understand the conflict, many Ukrainians are desperate to get out of Russia.
For some Ukrainians that have been taken to remote sites and sanatoriums in the country or deep into the forests, often hundreds of miles from the border in places such as Siberia, leaving Russia is almost impossible.
The Ukrainians are allowed to walk freely out of the camps, but those who have little money and no documentation quickly become stranded. Only those who have access to social media can contact the Russian civilians who are willing to help them leave.
One Russian activist who is helping with the crisis said, "That's where the volunteers come in, we get messages saying, 'We're a family with children and we need clothes', or 'we need a tyre for a car, can you help?'
"At the same time, there are messages from Russian people in other cities offering help - saying 'I can bring a car full of clothes' or 'I can bring money we have collected, I can take people here or there'."
"The word spreads and we help as many as we can. They make up their minds and they set off. I did a trip to some camps myself. People were allowed outside, but the volunteers couldn't go in. They were guarded in one way or another, we were forced to meet them outside.
"But they were not stopped from leaving. They were free to go.
The activist added, "There are other people though who are unable to contact the volunteers and they are stuck in a very vulnerable position. We heard of one place where people were being given spoiled food and it was making them sick.
"There is humanitarian aid, but it is bureaucratic and is not getting to people. Some people are not even given the 10,000 roubles (£121) they have been promised. The state is unable to properly look after these people. They need help."
It has been revealed that a decree from the Kremlin has ordered regions across the Russian Federation to prepare to accept people from the war zone and detailing how they are being dispersed to camps in Siberia, the Arctic Circle, the North Caucasus, and even the Far East, with at least 10 people being sent to the remote Kamchatka Peninsula on Russia's pacific coast.
Another Russian activist said, "People around the world are against Russia, It's sad, but it's understandable but there are good people everywhere and we are doing what we can."